Kayleigh Clews studied Painting and Decorating at South & City College Birmingham. Her Level 1, 2 and 3 qualifications, gained during an apprenticeship, allowed her to find employment as a Painter for Hankinson Painting Group.
She spoke to our Alumni Team about how her college experience helped her find her confidence, what it’s like working in her industry as a woman and also shared her advice for others hoping to follow a similar path.
Choosing her career path
“When I started at South & City College Birmingham, I was conflicted between two courses – Painting and Decorating and Motor Vehicle (Mechanics),” she said. “As I’ve been involved with cars nearly all my life and working as a Mechanic for a short space of time it seemed like an easy choice; however, after applying for the course I didn’t make it as it was a really popular choice, so I thought I’d give Painting and Decorating a go as my grandad was a Painter and Decorator for many years before he retired.
Working on huge projects (and being nominated for an award)
“I have just finished my apprenticeship and now I am a qualified Painter where I am working on a contract for social housing all around the Midlands and sometimes further afield,” Kayleigh explained.
“My highlight so far has to be where I had the opportunity to work away (with others) from home, to do a full refurbishment of a basement office in London for two weeks,” she said. “I also had the opportunity to work on the Birmingham Children’s Hospital Special Disease Centre from start to finish, which was just over half a year I spent working on it along with other painters. I was nominated to be Painter of the Year whilst I was working at the hospital by my manager.
“Both projects really have opened my eyes to what the construction trade is really like outside of college.”
Gaining confidence at college
“South & City College Birmingham helped me a lot in my confidence as a person and my confidence to voice my opinion and to talk to others. At the start of college I was very shy and quiet but over the three years I grew more and more confident with the help of my tutors and close friends.”
Being a woman in the construction industry
“My main challenge so far has to be dealing with the changing of the times as a young woman in the construction trade,” said Kayleigh. “I have come across people who don’t agree that women should be in the trade or ‘it’s a man’s world.’ But I’ve learned to ignore the comments and enjoy proving them wrong each day.”
Plans for the future and sharing her words of wisdom
“I would have never thought I would be where I am today three years ago and I am proud of what I have overcome to get here today,” she said. “If I am still working in the painting trade in five years I would be beyond happy.
“I’ve learnt that it’s important not to let people change or influence your opinion on what you want to do in life… Go with what you want to do, you might learn something about yourself and others around you along the way and just enjoy the experience.”
Thank you Kayleigh, we wish you the best of luck!