Kerrie Stewart – 24, Edinburgh
What apprenticeship programme are you on at the college?
“I’m in my second year on the Painting and Decorating Modern Apprenticeship.”
Who is your employer? What do you day to day with them?
“I work for Dumbreck Decorators in Edinburgh. I’ll officially be in my third year with the company this May. My day to day job involves everything within the painting and decorating trade from prepping surfaces to filling, painting, woodwork and lining. It’s really varied, no one days the same.
“I found it a little bit challenging in the beginning but I’ve learned really quickly. The company put you through what they call ‘slow training’ – instead of throwing you in at the deep end they build your confidence gradually, baby steps week-by-week. That’s really worked for me.”
Why did you choose the apprenticeship?
“It was my mum’s idea. I grew up with a paintbrush in my hand so she could see how much I loved it. I’ve not stopped decorating, in fact. When I got my own house with my boyfriend it was like a playground for me. He’s a joiner so we’re made for each other – he builds it, I decorate. We have three bedrooms, a kitchen and hallway so plenty of space for me to go wild in!
“I’ve always loved interior design, and I like putting my own stamp on it, so decided this was the profession for me.”
What would you say about the experience so far?
“It all started at Edinburgh College. They are the ones that got me the job in the first place and helped me figure out where my strengths lie. I started out on the NPA Painting and Decorating course before progressing onto the modern apprenticeship programme. It’s been all go from there!”
What have you achieved on the course?
“I won Apprentice of the Year at the college and was really encouraged to find an interest and specialise in it. I’m very proud of my papering, it’s come a long way. I’ve also developed an interest in the decorative arts – things like signwriting and advanced painting.
“A big highlight for me was meeting MSP Annabelle Ewing at the college’s construction open day last year. She wanted to try her hand at graining and I was more than happy to show her.”
How has it been as one of the few females in the industry?
“There’s one other female at Dumbreck – Donna Thomson – and I’ve learnt so much from her. If I have a problem, I’ll go to her. We bonded straight away and she’s taught me to take more pride in what I do.
“There aren’t enough females in the trades but I’ve always been respected here. I expected a man’s world, somewhere where I’d get shut out or feel uncomfortable. That’s never been the case. Everyone within the company has helped me take an idea and build on it. I’ve been learning all the tips and tricks.”
What are your ambitions for the future?
“My plan long term is to take my trade to Australia. Before that I want to learn as much as I can and save up – at Dumbreck I’m learning every day and developing all the time. I’d be mad to let that learning curve pass me by.”
What would you say to someone who’s thinking about doing an apprenticeship?
“Only do it if you’re serious about doing it. If you don’t have a real passion for the subject then there’s no point. I’ve learnt that you have to work hard to get results – you have to be a grafter to get there. There’s huge opportunities at the end of it which makes all the hard work worthwhile.”