Two Painting and Decorating Apprentices from Newcastle College are celebrating after coming first and third at an inter-college Painting and Decorating competition held at East Durham College on Monday 6 March.

31-year-old Dale Raine (above right) who is in the third year of a Level 2 apprenticeship in Painting placed first, while 24-year-old Nathan Clarke, who is on the same Level 2 apprenticeship (above left) came in third.

This regional competition forms part of a series of nationwide inter-college competitions where apprentices and students compete to be named the best in their discipline. It was judged by Carl Watson from the Peterlee Decorating Centre and both apprentices won prizes donated by Brewers Decorator Centres.

Dale, who is completing his apprenticeship with Optimal Decorating Contractors Ltd, enjoyed the challenge of the competition, but was surprised when his name was called out as overall winner.

He said: “This is the first time I’ve ever done anything like this. I was really anxious going there, because for some reason I thought I was going to be competing against people who had been doing competitions forever, but most of them were doing it for the first time too.

“It's nice to know that I can do it, especially inside a time frame as I can normally take as long as I like over each project, but this was timed so it was a new challenge. It has definitely given me a confidence boost, and I’m looking forward to the next lot of competitions now!”

Nathan, whose Apprenticeship is with Northumberland Estates (Alnwick Castle) added: “I think you’ve got a better chance of your employer wanting to keep you on at the end of your apprenticeship if you’ve got some competition experience under your belt, it shows them that you’re committed, and you’re one of the best at what you do.”

Dale will be competing in a paper hanging competition in May, as well as the WorldSkills UK regional competition in June.

Dale and Nathan’s teacher Andy Ritchie added: “I think the main benefit to these competitions for our apprentices is that they help them to realise they absolutely can cope under pressure. It provides a fantastic confidence boost, and it also helps them to stand out from the crowd when they’re going for jobs at the end of their apprenticeship.”

Being able to develop practical skills on the job and in competitions is just one benefit of doing an apprenticeship, where 80% of the time is spent being trained by an employer.

Find out more about Painting and Decorating apprenticeships at Newcastle College