Painting up a storm

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WITT Te Pūkenga painting and plastering tutor Ben Stiglmayer says he has more employers looking for staff than students. He’s on a mission to change this and the way the industry is perceived, which he feels has an unfair stigma associated with it.

“It’s a great trade to get into with lots of variety and scope - employers are crying out for good staff so you can easily be in a job by the end of the programme,” says Ben.

“I say to ākonga, if you put the effort in, I‘ll put the effort in and introduce you to the right employer.”

Ākonga often tell Ben they didn’t realise there’s so much to the industry.

“It’s not as simple as slapping paint on a wall, there is so much more to it” says Ben.

From learning to use specialist equipment like Graco and Wagner paint sprayers to understanding the technology of paint and keeping safe on the job, ākonga are kept busy on their three-day-a-week, 15-week New Zealand Certificate in Construction Trade Skills (Painting and Plastering) (Level 3) programme.

“I’ve worked on some wicked sites with some amazing and exotic materials, including a house made of hemp that featured on Grand Designs NZ. There is no greater reward than standing back and seeing your hard work become a masterpiece.”

It’s the sort of trade that you can take anywhere too. In his late twenties, having owned and run his own business, Ben has plenty of connections with former colleagues in the trade and good relationships with the industry.

In addition to running two 15-week level three programmes every year, Ben also runs block courses through BCITO for apprentices and has been asked to help train staff in the local paint shops.

He fell into what was the family trade straight from school but it was when he did a block course as part of his apprenticeship that the idea of being a tutor struck him.

Ben left school at 15 to work in Christchurch with his father, after accepting that school wasn’t for him.

"I  had my struggles when it came to reading and writing but I found that when I started using literacy and numeracy on the worksite it really clicked for me," he says.

"Going from an apprentice to tradesman to foreman of bigger sites, then to business owner and now tutor has been an amazing journey that has taught me a lot of skills that have helped in and out of the trades.”

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