AkzoNobel - Dulux Academy

Nominee Name:
Vickie Mather

Nominee Position:
Dulux Academy Manager
Thank you for voting for Dulux Academy!

You only have to switch on the TV, radio or read a newspaper headline to hear that the construction industry is facing a shortage in skilled labour. As a leading manufacturer AkzoNobel spotted an opportunity to change this for the painting and decorating industry and Dulux Academy is set to do just that!

Dulux Academy is the home of painting and decorating excellence and the UK’s first dedicated training centre for painters and decorators.

Since opening the doors in 2016 it has helped expand the skills, knowledge and capabilities of over 2,800 decorators and apprentices, assisting with addressing skills gaps in the industry and driving loyalty to AkzoNobel product and services.

Dulux Academy provides first class training essential to ensuring AkzoNobel play a part in meeting the UK's housing needs and encouraging small businesses to grow. Dulux Academy not only addresses current skills gaps within the industry, but will also become a life-long learning partner throughout a decorator’s career, assisting them in achieving their professional and personal ambitions.

The training offered celebrates the AkzoNobel brand portfolio and proud heritage, showcases product and application innovation and embraces technology. The partnership with City & Guilds has enabled Dulux Academy to launch an exclusive bespoke Level 3 qualification in Colour, Design and Professional Decorating which includes a robust workmanship assessment, a first for manufacturers.

City & Guilds have commented that, “The Dulux Academy qualification sets AkzoNobel apart from their competitors, is innovative and has unit titles that reflect the business vision and the fundamental skills needed within the industry.”

The training offer goes further than just paint and decorating, with four clearly defined areas: Product Application & Innovation, Colour & Design, Sustainability, and Business Management (which covers areas such as Health & Safety and commercial skills). Business Management course titles include ‘Marketing through Social Media’, ‘Winning & Keeping Customers’ and ‘Money Matters’.

The published Course Prospectus offers over 50 courses covering every aspect of painting and decorating and running a successful business.

Regardless of the stage of a decorator’s career, skills-based workshops aim to increase knowledge and understanding, by developing a curriculum of activities that will enable them to meet their personal and professional ambitions.

By establishing a clear training and qualifications structure, the Dulux Academy will ensure that decorators, and painting and decorating, are on a par with other trades. The ambition is that consumers will have confidence in a Dulux Academy qualified decorator, who has been trained and undertaken a robust workmanship assessment, incorporating the latest products and application techniques providing a standardised benchmark which is currently missing within the decorating profession.

Investment has been significant and to-date no external or Government funding has been drawn down to support this initiative. Training is delivered at either of our purpose-built locations in Slough or Ashington, or at one of our selected college partner locations. Working with a number of industry-leading supplier partners, delegates receive access to, and experience of, the latest decorating tools and equipment in the marketplace.

The flagship new state-of the-art training facility in Slough encompasses a digital suite, classrooms, small meeting rooms, skills testing area and an application arena proving a real wow factor making a statement on how training should be delivered within our industry. The space also encompasses an area for decorators and other like-minded individuals to relax, network and share experiences. In September 2017 the second purpose built training facility was launched at AkzoNobel’s world class manufacturing plant in Ashington, Northumberland.

Historically, painting and decorating training takes place at college with school leavers and career changes taking on full time courses to gain their level 2 or 3 NVQ. Upon qualifying there is limited opportunity within the industry to continue to train, learn new skills or try out the latest equipment and application techniques. This is the gap that AkzoNobel have filled with Dulux Academy and currently our direct competitors aren’t participating in this space.

Dulux Academy is keen to work with and support the important role of colleges in developing a future generation of painters and decorators. To support the work of the colleges Dulux Academy has delivered a number of free student ‘Master Classes’ aimed to supplement the learning they undertake at college and onsite. College tutors have also benefitted from Dulux Academy through attending CPD activities and the Slough facility hosted the 2017 Annual General Meeting of the Association of Painting and Craft Teachers (APCT).

Dulux Academy has received extremely positive local, trade and national media coverage, excellent delegate feedback and received industry recognition winning the 2016 British Coatings Federation ‘Excellence in Training’ Award and are currently shortlisted finalists for the 2017 Awards.

The team of industry experts delivers training that:

  • Continues to build the knowledge, skills and confidence of professional decorators at every stage of their career. This includes focusing on product application techniques, sustainability, colour and the commercial skills associated with running a business.
  • Covers the whole decorating spectrum and includes over 50 courses all focused on decorating that are delivered over 1 or 2 days at a range of UK locations.
  • Addresses current skills gaps within the industry, but will also become a life-long learning partner throughout a decorator’s career, assisting them in achieving their professional and personal ambitions.
  • Rewards achievement through the use of accreditation's and qualifications.

What was the in-market status quo before the proposition was created?

Britain is facing a major housing crisis and the government has a target to build a million new homes by 2020. A significant obstacle to this is the lack of skilled labour, particularly in painting and decorating.

The UK’s traditional decorating workforce is ageing, and the number of young entrants is in decline. AkzoNobel believes that it is the industry’s responsibility to invest in attracting new talent and upskilling the existing workforce.

Where is the need?

  • Vocational skills and technical education have been long-standing weaknesses in the UK’s education system.
  • The Government has highlighted the need for employers to set the standards required for their industries in technical education.
  • In the construction industry, the skills shortages in the UK are putting future housing projects (and connected decorating demand) in jeopardy.
  • One third of decorators see training (both product, application, and general training), as well as brand accreditation/quality assurance as key to driving brand usage.

Dulux Academy is contributing to AkzoNobel’s Human Cities agenda: “Human Cities is a way to make a difference, and at the same time position ourselves as leaders, generate business opportunities and innovations, be seen as an attractive employer and build sustainable partnerships.” (Ton Buchner, AkzoNobel 2016)

Dulux Academy:

  • Is making a difference to communities by providing the training needed for a secure future in decorating: it is the only institution in the industry to offer the City & Guilds Level 3 Certificate in Colour, Design & Professional Decorating.
  • Generates business opportunities by providing the workforce needed to address the shortage of skilled decorators in the industry (by 2020, we will have trained and up skilled more than 10,000 people).
  • Builds sustainable partnerships by forming long-term relationships with our most profitable customers, the professional decorator, by teaching specific skills that they won’t necessarily be exposed to on a day-to-day basis – including Sustainability and Business Management – as well as Product Application and Colour & Design.

The Dulux Academy has grasped the opportunity to:

  • Address the society and industry need to equip people with skills for sustainable future employment.
  • Satisfy the increasing demand in the construction market.
  • Raise standards across the industry.
  • Drive usage of AkzoNobel brands, and in doing so also contribute to our brand’s health and equity.

Dulux Academy is the first of its kind in the UK and to date; information has been shared with the Global AkzoNobel businesses that are keen to learn from the UK’s execution.

What challenges were you facing as a business?

AkzoNobel is a €20bn global paints and coatings company, employing 46,000 people across a network of 80 countries.

The UK business has a long and illustrious heritage, formerly as ICI chemicals.

The Decorative Paints business area, headquartered in Slough, Berkshire, is the largest division in the UK and is home to several iconic brands, including Dulux, Polycell, Cuprinol, Hammerite and Sikkens. We are proud to be the UK’s top decorative paint brand, renowned for quality and innovation with 40% of the market share.

AkzoNobel has ambitious future plans. Our vision is to be famous for inspiring beautiful living spaces, and our goal is to grow our business year on year. In order to accelerate growth plans there was recognition that there was a need to re position the business and shift the strategic direction moving from a traditional paint manufacturer, to a more to a customer-centric, digitally innovative model.

Dulux Academy plays a key role in this strategic move by providing a commercial training service that fulfills the needs of the decorating profession and wider industry.

During the development of Dulux Academy, the customer was kept at the heart of all decision-making from organisational structure to infrastructure to curriculum. Market research assisted in determining and understanding the customer, including the barriers that prevented them from accessing the training and development opportunities that Dulux Academy was looking to offer.

A detailed competitor analysis was undertaken to ensure we understood what was currently available in the market, and the team spent time looking outside of the UK in markets where painting and decorating is a licensed profession mirroring ‘Gas Safe’ as a standard for plumbing in the UK. Ideas and inspiration were also drawn from best practice offers outside of our sector including hairdressing and motor mechanics.

The partnership with City & Guilds, in the development of a new qualification, was a result of what we wanted to deliver not being available in the UK. The team knew what was wanted, and the fact it wasn’t available, provided opportunity to challenge the industry and launch something that is new and innovative.


Helen Bells
2 days ago

We have a fantastic new Dulux Academy in Ashington and I have seen first hand the amazing work Vickie and her team do. Brilliant and very talented.

Johnny M Johnny M
2 days ago

The facility at Slough is truly superb, I would say market leading even. They've set the bar really high for training the trade. The trainers really know their stuff and ensure you feel relaxed and comfortable which is difficult sometimes in a room full of strangers. I've been to a couple of courses now and they have been brilliant, learnt lots and really enjoyed myself, I'll definitely going to do more courses in the new year!

Chami Dhillon Chami Dhillon
2 days ago

I have seen first hand the fantastic work of the team at the Dulux Academy. A true example of an organization taking a leap to bridge a skills gap which transcends profit margins and looks at growing skills in the domestic labour market.

Grahar02 Grahar02
3 days ago

It doesn't get much better than this - leading the way! - A fantastic facility.

Dulux Academy is great, used it on various occasions. Great people, Great courses 👍👍

Bobbones Bobbones
5 days ago

I did a fantastic course in Slough. A great forward thinking team!

Becky Davidson Becky Davidson
5 days ago

Fantastic team - taught me so much. Thank you

rorton rorton
5 days ago

Great range of courses & an excellent place for learning with an enthusiastic and professional team

Lorna Weller Lorna Weller
5 days ago

Great course structure and such enthusiastic teachers - I have been on two courses and can't praise the team highly enough !

Mike Brooks Mike Brooks
5 days ago

Brilliant facilities, great people - helping drive excellence in our industry.

FurnessA FurnessA
5 days ago

amazing learning facility - great teachers and well structured

Leverr1 Leverr1
5 days ago

A brilliant facility and a brilliant team leading the way in driving skills and professionalism in the industry!

Clive Clive
5 days ago

a great place to learn new skills with a knowledgeable and friendly team

Trevor Steele Trevor Steele
5 days ago

A much needed facility to increase the skills and training required for such a traditional and professional trade. The learning opportunity available is second to none!

Such a broad range of courses to choose from for every decorating skill level. The trainers at the Dulux Academy are so knowledgeable about their respective crafts & make learning so much fun. It's great to learn from people who genuinely enjoy what they do every day and are passionate about it. I always leave with a smile on my face. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

ritchie ritchie
6 days ago

Excellent facility and people in both Slough and Ashington to deliver new skills to 0000's in years to come

A brilliant hub of learning and creativity - going above and beyond just paint.

Spoors Spoors
6 days ago

Amazing new facility fantastic investment for future

ColinCarlyle ColinCarlyle
6 days ago

Fantastic facility in Slough. Leading the way providing the skills and specialist knowledge the industry needs. Brilliantly led by Vickie and her team.