Painting Contractors-Where Are The New Apprentices Coming From-The Skills Shortage Dilemma




Posted by The Painters’ QS in Estimating for Painting Contractors

We all know that skilled commercial painters are in short supply.


1. 10 years of recession plus 2 years of COVID, has meant that very few painting companies have employed apprentices in recent years, so as older painters have retired, there's been no-one to replace them.

2. Historically, pay for painters has been lower than other trades so any young person thinking about working in the Construction Industry has picked any trade EXCEPT painting.

3. People generally think that anyone can paint and to a level, they can. Consequently, painters have always been viewed as the bottom of the 'trade ladder'.

However, the real skill of the professional painter is that not only can they deliver a high standard of work but they do this quickly and in site conditions that can be difficult. We can all take our time painting and do a 'nice' job, but who would pay us for that?

4. Many young people today don't want to do a 'physical' type job. They would prefer to sit in an office with a computer. Those that do can struggle to make that transition from school to the workplace with its' early starts, long travel distances to jobs and the discipline of getting up each morning and out to work. Consequently, many young apprentices 'give up' within just a few weeks of starting.

Let's be honest: Unlike other trades, young people do not choose painting as a career, then generally tend to 'fall into it' as a last resort!!!!

So what's the solution: How can we attract young people into our trade?

Answer? MONEY!!!!!

If you are going to attract young people into the painting trade, you need to compensate them for the physical work, the fact they are not in a nice warm office, the early starts etc.

The only compensation is level of pay not just at the training stage, but we need to increase the current levels of pay for qualified, competent tradespersons.

In this way, maybe we can both attract young people so that they actually choose painting as a career and retain them after they have qualified, so that they see painting as a lifetime career with good rates of pay.

To do the above, would require an effort from ALL painters on a national scale. After all, it will only take one or two painters in each geographical area to 'break ranks', to result in all the others being forced to reduce their levels of pay in order to compete.

Can painters stick together on a national scale, rather than 'cutting each others throats' only to the benefit of cheap prices for the Client/Main Contractor?

What do you think?



Written by P&D Online

The Painters’ QS