I had trained in painting and decorating but not as an apprentice. But I left that trade after four years because although I had the experience, I didn’t have the papers to prove what I could do, so it wasn’t easy to get jobs.
I’ve always been really handy with cars and worked with them in the garage at home, including doing some paint re-spraying. So I had a good idea of what I was going in for when I applied for a place on the vehicle paint refinishing diploma course at New College Lanarkshire.
I was a lot older than the others in the class. I was 23 where as the rest were about 16, but that didn’t bother me, I just got my head down and got on with it.
It was a two-year course and towards the end students were given the opportunity to go on placements, working one day a week in the work place when not in college.
I went to the paint refinishing workshop at UK Assist in Rutherglen. It’s Scotland’s largest accident repair centre and deals with 8500 repairs a year – 80 percent of them needing some kind of re-spraying work done. It’s a fantastic place to learn the job.
I did well on the placement which was why UK Assist decided to offer me an Apprenticeship. One of the things that impressed them was that I’d done my Diploma myself, which showed I was really motivated about the work.
I became a third-year apprentice straight away because I’d done the first two when completing my Diploma. That means I’ve just got to finish a SVQ Vehicle Body and Paint Operations (Refinishing), which I’m also doing at New College Lanarkshire.
What I enjoy most about this is that it’s all work-based assessment – no more classroom study!
There’s lots to learn with being a professional vehicle re-sprayer – it’s a lot different to working outside the back of my house!
I’ve learned skills like paint application and colour matching – the kind of stuff that will take cars and vans which have been in for repair back to looking brand new.
Health and safety is another big issue to know about because the job involves handling materials which can be harmful if you touch them or breathe them in.
I’ve really enjoyed my apprenticeship.
I’m working with a great company and earning good pay in a job that I enjoy. I couldn’t have had a better experience.