Akzo Nobel’s state-of-the art training facility celebrated its third anniversary last month and DIY Week caught up with Academy lead Vickie Mather to talk about trends in the market and what plans are in the pipeline for the future.
To mark the milestone, Akzo invited guests to the flagship training centre at its head office in Slough to experience trade and retailer training courses first-hand, and find out more about its ongoing expansion plans.
Ms Mather, who has been involved in heading up the project since 2014, explained the business had some clear ambitions. “One was to have an academy within 100 miles of decorator. We are currently operating out of 10 centres and have one in Wales opening imminently.”
She added: “And we also set out with a target of having 10,000 professionals trained through the Academy. We are really pleased to announce that we have gone over 5,500 now and are well on our way for the end of 2020 to hit that 10,000 milestone.”
The list of courses available, which are primarily taken up by decorating professionals, is constantly evolving and new additions include kitchen refurbishment, and advanced wallpapering.
Meanwhile, bookings for craft courses, such as marbling have seen a 500% rise year on year, with Dulux Academy skills development consultant Matt Gray explaining that the skills offer a point of difference for decorators in a competitive marketplace. “We’ve seen a strong demand for the courses from decorators, as well as for other similar craft courses including graining, gilding and urban effects like concrete,” he said.
There is still a strong attendance from retailers on Academy courses based around product knowledge courses and understanding colour, and Ms Mather also revealed plans for a new online training package for retailers and merchants, with some of the content already in production.
The idea is that all employees in a retail branch can benefit, rather than just the few who can attend the course. “We can’t guarantee that the person we have trained is going to be there when the decorator comes in with all the questions,” Vickie explained. “But also we are noticing that turnover in retailer merchants is quite high, so they might have invested in the training but that person doesn’t then stay in the business.”
Read the full story in the April 12 issue of DIY Week. Sign up here to receive our print or digital edition.