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Dulux opens painting and decorating academy

Homebase DIY

The nation that gave the world Constable, Gainsborough and Turner is short of 33,000 painters — but the Dulux dog is coming to the rescue.

AkzoNobel, the Dutch industrial company that owns the Dulux paint brand, is to open an academy to train enough painters and decorators to cope with the 1 million new homes that the chancellor wants to build by the end of the decade.

“Demand for skilled painters and decorators is exceeding supply,” Matt Pullen, UK managing director of AkzoNobel decorative coatings, said. “A maturing workforce is now retiring and we have got to do something, re-establish the craft of decorating.”

An industry report reckons that if the wider construction industry is to finish 1 million homes in five years — plumbed, with electrics and fully decorated — then the current 167,000 workforce of “brush hands” as they are known, will need to increase by 20 per cent.

The ribbon has been cut on the new £750,000 Dulux Academy, opened in a spare AkzoNobel building on the Slough industrial estate, west of London. It is hoped that between 3,000 and 4,000 “brush hands” will go through the academy every year, ranging from school-leaver apprentices to those wanting to retrain.

The academy will teach to the City & Guilds qualification, which typically costs £2,500. It will also teach the principles of construction as well as health and safety, organisation, planning and (without too much sucking on teeth) pricing. It is reckoned that average wages in the painting and decorating business are £40,000 a year but Mr Pullen said the trade offers much more.

“It can be a decent lifestyle, you can work for yourself or build up a business,” he said. “It is very entrepreneurial and some of the largest regional contractors were originally one-man bands. It is not as if decorating ever became unpopular. It is more a case that painters and decorators tend to be the last people in on a construction job when perhaps the budgets are squeezed and the margins aren’t so good. You can understand why so many more people become brickies, plumbers and sparkies.”

Source : Robert Lea – the Times

02 November 2015

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