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Investing in a new generation of talent

Specialist Protective Coatings (SPC) are proud of the longevity of their workforce, as many of the team have been working in the industry for over 30 years. However, this comes at a time when the industry is under threat due to workforce supply not matching the current demand. There is a distinct lack of younger talent coming through with specialised coating skills, and this is a gap that cannot be ignored.

Investing in a new generation of talent Specialist Protective Coatings
Lewis Smith (L) and Aiden Spendiff (R)

SPC knew they couldn’t sit still and allow this to continue. The team created a strategy to fill this gap in the industry over a 12 month period. By creating engagement opportunities with the younger generation, they were able to give them a stepping-stone to receive specialist coating training.

As well as investing in external training, to help support their goal of meeting demand in the industry, SPC asked younger employees with experience, to train and mentor new members of the team. This allowed them to share first-hand experience of what trainees can expect.

Trainee Painter, Aiden Spendiff, said “It’s been wonderful to share the skills I have learned since joining SPC. I have been with the company for 9 months and colleagues have become like family over that time. We are a great team and being able to share this has been a joy.”

Paul Whiting, General Manager at Specialist Protective Coatings acknowledged that, to help remedy this issue, the industry must make young people aware of the rewarding opportunities available within the sector.

“We’re focusing on young people who are going to be leaving education and would typically be looking at a skilled trade,” he said. “When talking to them, our team explained the benefits of a career in specialist painting – that if they fancy something different, something with great prospects and longevity opportunities, the specialist coating sector was the place for them.

“And, at Specialist Protective Coatings, that’s exactly what we provide. A rewarding, well-paid career, backed up by unlimited training, mentorship and promotion opportunities.”

He added that, without family or regional ties to the industry, most school leavers fail to consider a career in paint – something SMEs like SPC must address.

Having put plans in place 18 months ago, to take on 10 new starters, 4  in the painting production and 6 on site, the plan is to keep on building a strong team, both on site and off site during the Summer of 2023.

A rewarding career with opportunities

SPC have already filled 4 roles, including providing an opportunity for Lewis Smith, who has now been with the company for 12 months and, in early 2023, he became fully qualified as an Industrial Specialist Painter.

Lewis said of the opportunity “I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career. At SPC I was given an opportunity to learn about all aspects of the business, beyond my job role. I have really enjoyed working with the team, and I am now able to help others coming into the company.”

Paul commented on the recent investments “Avoiding a cliff edge that threatens the delivery of key projects will demand a collaborative effort on training,” he said. “We knew it needed robust project management and continuous, close control of cost and risk, to ensure the business remains profitable and effective.”

Not only will SPC provide the skills of applying various paint products, but the plan is also to put all the Paint team through ICATS. This will back up the knowledge they have learnt, but also give them an accredited certification.

Tomorrow’s specialist trade professionals

But what does ‘the right guidance’ look like in practice at SPC. Paul, explains it’s about nurturing and supporting Trainees.

“We’re big believers in helping them to become the best they can be,” he said. “Throughout the business, there’s a strong ethos of career and personal development.

“We draw up development plans, and our Trainees sit down with their direct Line Manager to discuss their short, medium and long-term goals. Their Line Manager asks where they see themselves in three years, and then 10 years. These objectives aren’t set in stone, and they can review them every year.”

With a clear development plan in place – and with both parties fully accountable – apprentices are more likely to achieve their career goals, and to remain with the business and within the industry as a whole.

He added that this approach doesn’t just benefit Trainees – it also produces the kind of competent, motivated professionals SPC is keen to employ.

“I think Trainee systems are the future of so many industries, but especially specialist painting,” he concluded. “You can invest in individuals, helping them to be the best person they can be, and that person will repay your investment many times over.”

Specialist Protective Coatings are always investing in new people. Please get in touch via our contact form should you be interested in a career with us.