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Painting & Decorating Apprenticeship

Formerly a chef, Sophie craved a more creative career with sociable hours.

Not taking the decision lightly, Sophie took some time to think about her options and after a while, decided on the world of painting and decorating. But, she wasn’t too sure how to get there. After a conversation with her partner, a City College Plymouth alumni, Sophie decided to start from scratch and take on an Apprenticeship with the College.

“I knew it was the right decision to start an Apprenticeship and work my way up the ladder – I didn’t want to just wing it, it was a whole change of career, and I wanted to see progress. I spent my first year getting to grips with the basics of painting and decorating which was really helpful. I was able to express my creativity and learn the basic terms and skills that were needed on site at the same time.”

The second year of Sophie’s Apprenticeship was when she really hit the ground running and “fell in love with decorating”. Sophie saw that there was so much more to the trade than what she first realised and even began entering competitions, supported by her lecturer, Syd. 

“I’d wanted to participate for a while but I didn’t feel I was good enough. But, I pushed myself and I ended up winning Johnstones Apprentice of the Year and won the silver medal in a national competition, Skillbuild. Being older meant I had nothing to lose and I had to grab any opportunities while I could. This is when I realised my hard work was paying off!”

Since completing her Apprenticeship, Sophie has secured full-time employment, working with local business, BLKC Decorators Ltd. Having worked on major painting and decorating projects including Smeaton’s Tower, Langdon Court, the Melville Building at the Royal William Yard and Winslade Manor, Sophie has become an integral part of an incredibly skilled team and now manages the crew.

“I’ve climbed the ranks and become Ben’s, my boss’, right-hand woman. I even entered him for Purdy Mentor of the Year in 2023 and he won runner-up! He never enters competitions but I knew that he deserved to be recognised for everything he’s put into the industry and his apprentices.

I think that I, along with many other women, have such a keen eye for detail which is such an important trait in this industry. I hope I can inspire other women to start a career in decorating because I’ve absolutely loved every minute of it so far and I know other women could, too. ”

The unique and detailed work is something Sophie loves and something she continues to look for in her work. 

Looking to the future, Sophie aspires to start her own business, drawing on her experiences and expertise gained through her journey. And, working with the best in the business is building her up for exactly that. 

For those interested in signing up for an Apprenticeship, click here to find out more.