At the age of 17 David Olden was unsure of his next steps for his future and his career, but only a few years on he is doing an apprenticeship and has proved he is on the ladder to success after coming first in the painting and decorating category of the West Midlands regional heat of SkillBuild – the UK’s largest multi-trade competition.
David, joined South Birmingham College to do an introductory course to a range of construction skills. He knew he was artistic and enjoyed painting, so the time spent learning about painting and decorating helped him decide to pursue that as a career.
David enrolled on to the Diploma in Painting and Decorating Level 1 and is now on the Level 3 Diploma course whilst also working as an apprentice for a local construction and refurbishment company, GD Limited, which he got through the college. “I chose South Birmingham College to do a course painting and decorating as it is known as the best college in the area for doing construction-related courses. Traditional education didn’t interest me, I wanted to do something more fun and artistic so painting was the perfect option and I was interested in an apprenticeship so I could earn and learn at the same time.
“When I was in my second year a local construction company came to the college looking for apprentices and I was selected. I now work four days a week and study at the college on one day. It is great getting the experience in a real workplace, and I have found that sometimes I can teach painters I’m working with who have been doing it for 30 years about a new type of paint or a new technique because we are learning the up-to-date stuff. Getting so much hands-on experience through the apprenticeship has really motivated me to push myself further.”
The SkillBuild competition which is managed by CITB-ConstructionSkills, saw more than 90 budding trainees from across the region build, plaster and paint their way to success to be crowned the best in their chosen field. It is hoped that David will be amongst the highest scorers from the regional heats to compete at the three day SkillBuild National final to find the UK champion.
David added: “The competition was really tough but it was a great chance for me to show off some of the skills that I use every day in work and in college. The apprenticeship has definitely helped me get ahead; giving me all the knowledge and experience I need. Being the first in the region in painting and decorating is my biggest achievement so far, and I am pleased to say the last three years of hard work has really paid off. When I complete the apprenticeship I will be able to get a fast track application in to the Army. This combined with my SkillBuild win should mean that I can realise my dream joining the Royal Engineers and work in Building and Structural Finishing as a painter and decorator.”
South Birmingham College offer apprenticeships in a range of construction skills at their purpose-built construction campus in Bordesley Green – the largest of its kind in the West Midlands. For more information about doing an apprenticeship at South Birmingham College, contact 0121 694 5000. If you are an employer interested in taking on an apprentice with South Birmingham College, call 0800 731 3467.