Is it Worth Getting an NVQ in Decorating?

I was browsing on the Facebook groups the other day, like you do, and I saw a post asking for the best place to get an NVQ. This decorator was not qualified but he felt that it would help his work prospects if he did get qualified. 

We deal with a great company called The North West Skills Academy and they have secured funding so that they can offer the NVQ for free to the candidate. This is a great offer and means that a decorator can get qualified at no cost to himself. In fact, if the decorator is CITB registered they will get a one off £600 bonus for achieving the qualification.  

Happy days. 

So, I posted and tagged the guy in. I said, “You can get the NVQ for free from North West Skills Academy” and then just to be encouraging I also said, “It would be well worth it.” That was my good deed for the day done, I do not get anything for passing on candidates, no commission or kick backs or anything like that, I did it to help the guy. 

Someone immediately jumped into the conversation and said to me “why is it worth doing an NVQ?”, to be honest the reply needed to be a long one to answer this question properly and I was busy doing other things, so I didn’t really answer the question.  

My mind continued to ponder it though. I read some of the other comments, things like, “qualifications don’t matter” and “my reputation gets me the work” and other less interesting comments. 

I can understand to some extent the “no qualification camp”, they are probably self-taught or taught by their dad and they have always been self employed and in work and they have never been asked for their qualifications. Of course, you can get through life with no qualifications, many people do. 

But there are a few reasons that I think its worth getting a qualification, and here they are, 

First, if you are new to the industry then as part of getting your qualification you will be trained in many aspects of the job. You will learn about the correct preparation and primers to use. How to wallpaper and how to use a range of tools.  

Then when you pass the qualification this “piece of paper” tells the future employer that you have took the effort to learn the trade properly. This will help you when you are decorating, and it will also help you get the job over the “self-taught” person.  

This alone is worth the effort. You never know in the future when you may need to get a job working for a bigger firm or a local authority. Its alright being self employed when your twenty but when you’re fifty a nice cushy job working for the council seems attractive. 

Second, if you are self-taught and you have been doing the job a while then you can do an NVQ. This would be done on site. An assessor will come out and look at your work and you will also be asked to demonstrate your knowledge of the trade. Now in fairness the quality of some of the assessors varies and some are very professional and some just want to get you through the process. 

If the NVQ is delivered by a good training company then you should come out the other end with a bit of new knowledge and an assurance that you have actually been doing things right. I think there is benefit in this, you feel more confident telling people you are a decorator now you have a qualification. Someone else has said “yes, you are good”. 

Third, a qualification is like an off the shelf starter reputation. Its okay saying that you get your work based on your reputation if you have been trading for twenty years but what about if you have not got any experience at all?  

A qualification tells the customer that a college has looked at the decorators work and said “yes, they are up to a standard”. Again, in the past colleges may pass people who were less than worthy and experienced decorators have picked up on this. However, the Government has introduced a new system across the board (all sectors not just construction) which means an apprentice now has to do an “end point assessment” at a centre that is different to the one where you have trained, very much like a driving test. This way you have got to be at a certain standard otherwise you will not pass. 

Finally, I think a qualified decorator gives the trade a good reputation and image to our customers. If we go round saying “oh yeah, I am self-taught, I wear my tracky bottoms but honestly I do a good job” what signal does that send out to the customer? It says, “anyone can do what I do, I am not really worth very much”. The customer sees a decorator with a smart van, wearing clean white overalls with City and Guilds qualified on the side of the van and the customer thinks “professional”. 

My observation of all professionals is that they make a good living and in the end that’s what we all want from our decorating. 

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Is it Worth Getting an NVQ in Decorating?