AkzoNobel, the parent company of professional paint brand Dulux Trade, has today launched the UK’s first academy for painters and decorators, with an official opening by the Minister of State for Employment, Priti Patel.

The academy will give more than 4,000 decorators and apprentices the chance to upskill each year with new techniques and ways of working and receiving expert advice in applying paints and coverings, and gaining an advanced understanding of the essential principles of colour, design and sustainability.

The Academy will also equip decorators at varying stages of their careers with the skills to build, run and promote a successful company, with a variety of business and marketing courses available.

The first ever City & Guilds Level 3 certificate in Colour, Design and Professional Decorating – a qualification established specifically for Dulux Academy – will also be on offer. In addition to training existing professionals, the Dulux Academy will train a new generation of painters and decorators, helping to improve standards and address the skills shortage across the industry.

The academy will work with colleges nationwide to provide 350 workplace opportunities for promising students to inspire the next generation of painters and decorators. Tutors at these colleges will also learn about the latest products, methods and design technology to ensure they are passing on the latest skills and techniques to their students.

A recent report by the Construction Industry Training Board found that the greatest demand for increased provision of skilled labour was in the interior fit, and painting and decorating sectors.

However, in a report published at the end of 2014, KPMG found that the training provision in the construction sector needs to be increased by an average of 51% to meet the demand for labour between 2014 and 2017.

Minister of State for Employment Priti Patel said: “High quality apprenticeships are essential to support businesses and to help our economy prosper in the years to come. We are committed to working hand-in-hand with industry to boost the number of apprenticeships our economy needs. This is why we have pledged to create three million more apprenticeships by 2020 so more people and businesses can reach their full potential.”