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Apprentices – should you take one on?

Apprenticeships have – and have always had – a crucial role in securing the future of the painting and decorating trade.

In this article, Painting and Decorating Association Chief Executive, Neil Ogilvie, discusses whether taking on an apprentice could be a good move for your business.

The basics

Without young people coming into the industry, the sector cannot sustain itself – and fresh talent, ideas and skills will be lost to our industry.

Taking on an apprentice can seem like a minefield, but essentially, apprentices need to be:

  • 16 or older
  • a new or current employee
  • paid the appropriate minimum wage
  • given at least 20% of working hours for training/study
  • taught job-specific skills
  • mentored by experienced staff

Painting and Decorating Apprenticeships usually take three years to complete.

Getting started

The biggest barrier in many cases is the large volume of information for employers taking on an apprentice for the first time.

It can appear overwhelming trying to search for the correct information that is relevant to you.

The basic steps to taking on an apprentice are:

  • Choose an apprenticeship – look at the qualifications and courses on offer
  • Find a course provider
  • Recruit an apprentice
  • Liaise with the course provider to provide the apprentice with an ‘apprentice agreement and commitment statement’
  • Check at for any funding that may be available

Employers can advertise vacancies for free with the National Apprenticeship Service at, sign up to or work with local providers such as colleges to support the recruitment process.

Looking ahead

Apprentices benefit from an experienced mentor to help them learn job-specific skills, but there is no specific set of requirements for this.

A sole trader who takes on an apprentice will naturally teach and support them through working together day-to-day, while SMEs may choose to ask one specific team member to act as a mentor.

Some larger companies and national contractors have a structured mentor scheme.

Having the support of an experienced painter and decorator is vital for apprentices – particularly at the start of their course.

However, apprentices are often among the first to be trained in new techniques, which they can share with their mentors – creating a skills exchange which benefits both employees as well as the business overall.

According to Government figures UK employers agreed that apprenticeships:

  • Develop relevant skills (86%)
  • Improve productivity (78%)
  • Improve the quality of service (74%)

Should you take on an apprentice?

It depends on your business.

It’s important for both you and any potential recruit, that you are in a position to support their training alongside paying them the appropriate wage.

You will need to work with their training provider by allowing your apprentice at least 20% of their time away from site to complete their training course and help to underpin that learning through on-the-job training.

If you want to expand, introduce new skills and techniques, take opportunities to support young people, potentially access Government funding and show a commitment to investing in people, training and education – then now is the time to look for training providers in your area and think about recruiting an apprentice.

As a PDA member, direct links to trusted industry advice from organisations such as BUILDUK and CITB are available in the Members Hub at

If you’re not currently in PDA membership, you can search for information from the National Apprenticeship Service at

To find out more about the PDA or apply to join visit:

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