Tutor spotlight: Anouska Dewe, Painting and Decorating

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When Anouska first saw the job posting for a painting tutor, she thought,That’s the dream, that’s what I want to do”. A year later, she’s loving it. We spoke to her about what students learn in the programme, being a female in a male-dominated industry, pathways for students, and more.

What is your position and what do you teach?  

I’m one of the four tutors for the New Zealand Certificate in Construction Trade Skills (Level 3) Painting and Decorating programme. Over the 17 weeks of the programme, we equip students with the skills to enter the painting industry with confidence.  


What are the main components of the programme?  

One of the biggest components is the allied trades project. That’s all the practical stuff in the workshop, where students work on a cubicle that’s kind of like a mini house. They practice prep work, learn all the paint systems and types of paint, paint a door, and learn wallpapering and spraying.  

We spend a bit of time covering terminology and job roles. There’s a lot of terminology out there in the painting industry, so it's a big help to be familiar with them when you enter. We also have a big focus on health and safety – how to use PPE properly, how to recognise toxic substances like lead and asbestos, and how to respond.  

Communication is a huge part of our course. We cover the different types of communication, and how to use them effectively within the trade.  

Every week we work on their portfolios, where we compile photos of all the work students are doing throughout the week. It’ll include photos of their cubicle, products they’re using, and anything else they’ve been up to.  


Do students get work experience? 

Fridays are dedicated to work experience. Demand for painters is high at the moment, so it’s been pretty easy to get students placed. We have good relationships with businesses all over Wellington, so it’s just a matter of matching the student with the right company in the most suitable location.  

If a student ever has a bad experience with a company, like they don’t follow health and safety practices properly, we avoid using that company again, and find the current student something better. It doesn’t happen often though.  


How often are students on campus? 

The students come in Monday – Thursday, and then Fridays are for work experience. They come in at 9 and leave at 3. It makes it an easy transition for high school leavers, and for any older students with kids, it works well around school drop-off and pick-up times. 

We always get a real mix of students enrol for this course, which is great to see. On average about a third of our students are female, but last trimester, it was up to half! The average age of our students is around 20-25, but some are as young as 17, and the oldest I’ve taught was in their forties.  


How do you find being a female in a male-dominated industry? 

I think it’s super helpful for our students to see a female tutor, because the girls get to see some female representation, and the boys get a better idea of the diversity in the industry. It’s not all males out there anymore, there’s a growing number of women in the painting industry. 

When I was working in the industry, before I became a tutor, I had a lot of positive experiences on site. The industry has changed quite a bit over the last ten years, and it will continue to get better. People are more respectful and appreciate the importance of diversity on site. Homeowners especially love seeing female tradies!  


What do you enjoy most about teaching?  

It’s hard because I love it all. I love seeing them transition from being shy and reserved when they begin, to being a big whānau at the end! They’re confident, and they’ve made good connections with their classmates.  

I’m a bit of a nerd with painting, so I love all the nitty gritty chemistry parts of painting. I love seeing the students develop the same enthusiasm and passion that I have. It’s a really beautiful job and I’m really enjoying doing it.  


What's your experience in the area?  

Before I started teaching, I was working in Christchurch for about 9 years. I actually moved down there two weeks before the earthquake, so you can imagine the demand! I did all my training with some really awesome companies there. Once we got into new builds, I learnt a lot about working under pressure.  We would paint an entire house in about six days! After that I became a foreman (or forewoman), which taught me a lot of management, communication and organisational skills.  


What pathways are there for students? 

After students complete this programme, our hope is that they get into a company straight away. Their work experience usually sets them up well for this. If the company then offers them an apprenticeship, they’ll go on to complete the National Certificate in Painting and Decorating (Level 4) with BCITO, which is delivered in partnership with us. So if all things go well, I get to see students back on campus shortly after graduating!  

After finishing their qualification, there’s the opportunity to move into more senior positions, like manager or foreman. After that, it’s pretty common for people to go out on their own and start their own painting business. Some people even shift into interior design or project management. 

Study Painting at Whitireia and WelTec

Love learning by doing? Want to work in an in-demand industry? A qualification in painting could be for you.  

New Zealand Certificate in Construction Trade Skills (Level 3) Painting and Decorating

Get skills to be able to professionally prepare surfaces and paint interior and exterior materials. Develop your decorating skills by learning wallpapering and spray painting. Gain safe worksite skills along with becoming first aid qualified, so you’re ready to work in industry.

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