First Scottish heat in national contest for apprentices

28 April 2023

The second round of the Painting and Decorating Association’s Apprentice of the Year competition has taken place at City of Glasgow College.

The PDA held the competition event – the first ever to take place in Scotland – with 20 apprentices from colleges in Glasgow, Inverness, Fife, Falkirk and Newcastle taking part.

Apprentices took on a gruelling six-hour challenge, which requires students to take a complex design on paper and translate it into a carefully completed ‘mural’ on mock walls.

Tom Little, a semi-retired college lecturer in painting and decorating from Lanarkshire was invited to create the designs used in each of the competition events.

He said:

“The test piece is designed to test a range of skills which are particular to painters and decorators – accuracy, getting straight lines, nice regular curves and sharp corners – as well as getting an even application of the coating so the whole background is well covered.

“There’s a whole range of hidden skills – from thinning the coating the correct amount to measuring, marking out and planning – that you don’t see when they are actually doing the work itself.”

Two further competition rounds will be held in Birmingham and Kent, with top-scoring apprentices battling it out in a Grand Final to be held at Doncaster College and University Centre.

Lecturer at City of Glasgow College, Michael McEwan said:

“It’s the first Scottish heat and the first time the PDA have been up here.

“These apprenticeship competitions are great for apprentices to learn from, great for the industry to showcase the skills that are still being developed by students and to show what they can do when out on site with their employers.”

The competition is judged by Andrew Davis from the Association of Painting Craft Teachers (APCT) and PDA Chief Executive, Neil Ogilvie.

Neil said:

“Our Apprentice of the Year competition has expanded in recent years, with 75 apprentices entering the contest across the four regional heats in 2023.

“Apprentices really value the experience of taking part in the competition – they get to network with their peers and really push themselves to excel.

“We’d like to thank the team at City of Glasgow College for hosting the competition event – the first held in Scotland – as well as our sponsors, Crown Paints, CITB, Purdy Professional Painting Tools, Valspar Trade and Ciret UK, without whom we wouldn’t be able to provide this opportunity.”

The Apprentice of the Year winners will be announced at the PDA’s flagship Premier Trophy Awards ceremony, held at the prestigious Plaisterers’ Hall in London.

Kevin O’Donnell, Senior Technical Demonstrator at Crown Paints, the main sponsor of the Premier Trophy Awards 2023, said: 

“Painters and decorators have an unparalleled ability to bring colour, life and character to buildings through their work.

“It’s important that the industry maintains a strong pipeline of enthusiastic, skilled young people working in the trade.

“That’s why we’re incredibly proud to sponsor a competition that supports and nurtures the next generation of talented professionals.”

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