The Painting and Decorating Association (PDA) hosted a southern and northern round, where participants had six hours to demonstrate their skills.
A test of accuracy, concentration and time management, the students were required to replicate a given design.
Neil Ogilvie, Chief Executive of the PDA trade said, “The students were all given the same design and they had to transpose it onto large white boards that we provided.
“They were not allowed to use tape and had to do all of the painting free hand, which really put their cutting in skills and handwork to the test.”
Bournemouth and Poole College hosted the southern round, which saw seven competitors go head-to-head with an additional eight taking part in the northern heat at Hinckley and Warwickshire College earlier this month.
Reece Stacey-Jones, 19, has taken part in the competition for the second year running.
He said: “Last year I just came for the experience, but it made me want to come back and win it and fingers crossed I will.
“The hardest part is making sure I don’t lose track of time, so I try to work out in my head what I should have done for when.
“It’s great to test my skills in an environment like this.”
Neil Ogilvie and Stephen Daws, National Secretary of The Association of Painting Craft Teachers, judged the entries.
Stephen said: “This competition is a fantastic showcase for the industry and its purpose is to make students feel proud of their craft.
“Not only that but the winner will have to go up on stage at a prestigious event to collect their award, so it’s a real confidence booster.”
The Trainee of the Year winner will be announced at the PDA’s Premier Trophy Awards, taking place at the London Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square on Thursday, July 6.
CITB and Purdy are the main sponsors of the competition, which has been running for over 20 years, while Johnstone’s donated the paint and Archidec supplied the sundry items.