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Apprenticeship training

Important Changes to Painting and Decorating Course

Daniel Wurm | 08 Jan 2019

The national qualification for painters and decorators has been reviewed and has had a major update.

On behalf of the Construction, Plumbing and Services IRC, Artibus Innovation reviewed and developed the CPC30620 Certificate III in Painting and Decorating qualification and 19 units of competency.

This important work happens about once every 12 years and it sets the curriculum for apprentices for the next decade. Certificate III Painting and Decorating is the nationally recognised qualification for painters and required for licensing in SA, NSW, and QLD, and can be used for registration in WA and Victoria. It is the certificate issued to apprentices on completion of training.

From January 1st 2022 the old qualification CPC30611 will no longer be able to be offered, and all existing apprentices and students will need to transition to the new course, CPC30620 Certificate III Painting and Decorating. The new course includes new subjects on asbestos encapsulation, estimating, and preparation of new surfaces.

What does this mean for apprentices?

Apprentices and anyone currently enroled in the superseded course will need to complete any subjects they have started by December 31st at the very latest. Any subjects that have not been completed by this date will need to be redone in the new course. Any subjects you have completed should be credited in the new course, and in most cases you will not need to redo them. Any subjects you have not started will obviously not be affected. Contact your RTO or TAFE about what subjects you can complete within the next few weeks before transitioning. Also, your RTO or TAFE must provide you with a transcript of all subjects you have completed so far. This transcript is a legal document and should be kept safe. Contact your training provider if you don't receive this document.

What does this mean for employers?

Your apprentice will transition to the course by January 1st 2022 at the latest. If you are doing on-site workplace-based training you might like to help your apprentice complete any subjects they have started, so they don't lose any work.

Its also an opportunity to switch training providers if you aren't happy with your current training provider. If you've thought about how you can get better quality, customised on-site training for your apprentice, now is the time to do it. All RTOs and TAFEs must issue transcripts with completed subjects and enrol all current apprentices in the new course by January 1st, so this is the perfect time to make the switch to better quality training.

Find out more about how on-site training works and make the switch to better quality training

Changes to the qualification include:

Why is this important?

Only 28% of employers said they were happy with the training their apprentices receive at TAFE or colleges and 73% said that apprentices require more training in preparation of surfaces. This has led to employer dissatisfaction with training outcomes and poor technical skills in the industry.

Will industrial rope access be taught to painters?

Rope access has been part of the trade for over 130 years and was traditionally known as a 'bosun's chair'. It has been taught at several TAFEs around Australia for many years. Many painters are learning this skill again so as to be able to do painting maintenance on multi-story buildings. Currently it is only taught at non-accredited colleges with un-recognised qualifications, which is dangerous for such a high risk activity. It is important that this part of trade training is subject to the Australian Quality Training Framework.

The proposal is for the subject to be an elective in the future. This means it does not have to be part of the course and would only be chosen by employers who do industrial rope access work.

The industry survey showed that about 50% of the industry supported the development of the unit. Artibus is consulting with other trades to establish whether the unit will be developed.

Is the trade being watered down?

No, in fact there are two new units that have been developed as core units to address the issues of poor trade skills in the industry. These units are on encapsulation of asbestos, and an additional unit on surface preparation. In addition, more training will be provided in spray-painting, and training in protective coatings will now be compulsory for all painters.This means that apprentices will recieve additional training in the skills that really make the difference between a handyman and tradesman.

It will still be compulsory for all painters to learn gilding, imitation woodgraining and imitation marbling.

Why aren't apprentices required to learn everything related to the trade?

There are over 34 subjects related to the trade. However, the new course includes 26 compulsory subjects and 3 electives. This allows employers and students to choose subjects that they feel would be valuable to them and that they can specialise in. Employers and students choose up to 3 subjects as electives. Therefore, no apprentices are learning everything related to the trade. The electives include anti-graffiti coatings, intumescent coatings, financial management, business legal requirements, advanced wallcoverings and advanced decorative finishes (such as murals, gilding and traditional finishes). This allows painters to specialise in certain skills. It is not possible to do all 34 subjects within the time for the apprenticeship.

Will there be any changes to length of time it takes to complete an apprenticeship?

No. This has nothing to do with the duration of apprenticeships.

To find out more about the changes, please contact the National Painting and Decorating Institute.


1 | Mike King

Hi Guys.

Having Rope Access as a recognised unit in the Painting Qualification will be a definite game changer.
We are setting up for our first rope training courses this year and will be doing so with the purpose of rope access. To gain work position and carry out professional trade application.
Lucas, you are absolutely right. We need to bring the standard back into the industry.

Posted on 10th January 2019, 3:32pm

2 | Lucas Cavuoto

As a painting Lecturer at Tafe, I believe the specialised skills are necessary to nurture as the trade is being dumbed down to glorified brush hands not craftsman. We need decorative painting all forms taught, wall papering ,timber finishing, murals, colour knowledge, historical restoration- Lead abatement, window glazing & most importantly skills & knowledge of preparation of all surfaces. More face time is also require to teach these subjects. I am against onsite training as it just dumb downs the trade.

Posted on 8th January 2019, 11:15am

3 | Michael Campbell

Old style finishes are seldom used today, more time should be spent on the modern finishes such as metalics, pearl finishes and even distemper and lime washes.
More time is required on paint technology, surface preperation and understanding why a coating doesn't preform as it should.

Posted on 9th January 2019, 12:03pm

4 | Mavuku Tokona

I totally agree with what said above we face thin in Fiji to.

Posted on 11th January 2019, 5:45pm

5 | Paul Jones

Interesting comments so far!
I would like to comment first on the apparent dumbing down of painters.
I have been in the Industry for 40 years and it's not the training that has dumbed us down. It's the apparent willingness of painters to work for next to nothing. You here people say anyone can paint, well we know that's not true but ever since painting has been sold to the public as a do it yourself our trade has lost the way.
I think this new incentive and training package will certainly help.
Walllapering ceilings has a big question mark for me??
I have hung endless rolls of paper, but frankly only a few times in my life have I been asked to line a ceiling, in the 8o's. So in my view not relevant.
I think painters should be a collective to tackle the paint companies and stop underselling us. For example taubmans specify a 2 coat system on new housing , what rubbish is that! They do the deal with the builder, we are forced to apply rubbish standards. No wonder it looks like "anyone can paint". Guess who gets the rebate on the paint we use? You guessed it the builder.
We used to be called Master Painters but now we are people that apply paint to the standard they want. We need control back and support from the paint companies.
Oooops getting carried away sorry.

Posted on 25th March 2019, 9:38pm

6 | Peter bowers

I totally agree with Paul Jones. He hit the nail on the head. I too have been in the industry for over 40 years and there are many things wrong with training and standards. I have never wallpapered a ceiling. Wallpapering is a specialty that must be practiceda lot so as to be commercially viable. the same can be said for marbling and woodgaining. Teach students good work practices, good preparation, good standards, the difference between repaints and construction, what materials to use on different surfaces, how to repair a damaged surface. There are many more areas to cover. Once they have an understanding of how challenging painting can be if you are prepared to do it right then perhaps they will value themselves more highly and charge accordingly

Posted on 27th March 2019, 9:50am

7 | Neil McFadzen

I do not agree with the removal of conventional spraying as this remains a most necessary form of spray application in both the domestic and industrial sectors. HLVP application is very common becoming a necessary technique and conventional spraying is more practical for smaller jobs.

Posted on 27th March 2019, 1:49pm

8 | Philip Harker

I agree with the above post in regards to wallpaper ceilings,I have never done, or seen this done for over 30 years so Why? I am unsure also of the direction of prepare new surfaces, and why we would require a specialized subject for this .

Posted on 5th April 2019, 3:30pm

9 | Michael Clark

My points of view:
1.Not sure why a specific unit of competency was needed to single out 'new surfaces'. From the time I started competency based training in Painting and Decorating (1987) the teaching of surface preparation always included new surfaces as well as existing pre-painted substrates. My Q is when did it start not being included? and why would it have been excluded? I don't understand how you can teach surface preparation and not include new surfaces!
Common sense would tell you as a trainer (or an employer of an apprentice) that surface prep is crucial to all subsequent coatings or substrate treatment, and I would say even further, if it was a knowledgeable trainer, would or should have included new surfaces to there instruction. Curriculum or outcomes are but guidelines to a skill set. It is the instructors job to interpret the competency and design instruction that covers all aspects of that competency.
Emphasis on understanding Substrates and Paint Films and Defects, is the key. being able to determine a structural defect that is effecting or could effect the integrity of a paint film or guide surface treatment and paint selection is crucial to a professional tradesperson, in advising a client and providing a proper/accurate quotation. This is what separates a professional from one who is not.
2. Matching Colour - Design a heritage colour scheme. Again what has happened to the training program for P&D. It seems like a case of back to the future! We took away a unit of competency (at least in NSW), now bring it back as if something new!
(NSW P&D courses 5129, 2155, 8063 all had Heritage colour schemes imbedded in them) Module 2155Y Historic Renovation - Select a exterior colour scheme / interior colour scheme, for a historical period home.
3. Protective Coatings - core compulsory unit.
Yet again back to the future! e.g. Previous course 2155 had:
2155T - Application of paint to Metal Surfaces
elements - Types of Metal Surfaces, Corrosion of metals, Provide a key and gain adhesion to metal surfaces, Types of metal coatings, Prepare surfaces for metal coatings, Select and apply primers / finish coats to metal surfaces
2155AB - Industrial Coatings
Elements - Effects of environment, Surface preparation, Types of coatings, Safety Regulations, Paint Systems, Application methods, Identify faults to surface coatings, Calculating quantities and costs
4. Spay painting
Mixed feelings on this one. The problem with teaching conventional spray apart from the irregularity of using conventional spray outfits, is the cost to set up a facility that meets OH&S standards and environmental standards. The equipment and material costs are also costly. Storage of highly flammable materials.
I believe certainly that explanation within the Spay Unit should still cover all spray types and methods regardless, to educate the learner in the differences.
I Q the statement (possibly tongue in check) 750 M2 is equivalent to 3 houses? The average bedroom say 3x4M ( walls and ceiling, say 2 coats = 180m2 therefore 4 bedrooms = 432m2 + lounge/dining/hallway, there's your 750m2, 1 house ( still excessive amount in my opinion.
5. No longer cutting of glass - Glazing
ok, fewer houses requiring this skill. However what about surface prep on old homes that require window frames to be hacked out cleaned, primed , putty etc prior to painting?
6. Wallpapering Ceilings - some interesting comments on this. Makes me wonder if some of the people making comments have ever been formally trained.
To fully appreciate all the skills of wallpapering it needs to be included. Interesting to note in NSW, the Department of Fair Trading differentiates an Painter from a Painter and Decorator when it comes to a license, a Painter and Decorator also hangs wallpaper! That is their difference between the two.
I concede there is low demand as a whole, however new wallpaper murals designed for ceilings are being offered to clients and the use of lining paper to cover over badly peeled or damaged ceilings particularly in older homes or historical homes is a effective way to repair or cover defects. The skills required are specific.
6. Not sure what is meant by calculating construction work?
What is the purpose or meaning of 'construction' in this context.
Calculation of quantities from construction plans for painting? Yes
7. Only 28% of employers say they are happy with training TAFE/Other - Private RTO's
A apprentice contract requires on and off the job training/mentoring and guidance in the skills of the trade. It is also the role of the employer to train his/her apprentice. To be honest over the years of training I have in this trade the number of employers that have shown 'any interest' in what there apprentice does in TAFE or Other is nothing short of pathetic, and unless you have employed an apprentice, and that Q has been established in the survey,any comment on this subject or % is bias.
This Q or low % could possibly be part of the problem of the high number of contractors that are now working in our industry that never went to TAFE or Other formal training, themselves and have no understanding of exactly what gets taught and the training process. Distinct lack of interest which sometimes is reflected in the lack of enthusiasm of the apprentice in attending TAFE / Private RTO, Training.
7. With regard to the statement regarding course duration and units, 'it is not possible to do all 31 subjects within the time of the apprenticeship'
- the term of apprenticeship is 4 years
-the term of attendance to off site training used to be 3 years, total approx., 864 hours
This has been decreased over past years to approx. 2.5 years attendance
If the re-evaluation of time and weightings of the various units of competency where looked at possibly all topics could be completed within 3 year period
Other issues raised.
Re Michael Campbell comment, Distemper and lime wash finishes are old style and have been taught or at least discussed to apprentices for a long time.
I agree modern finishes like the proprietary brands/ finishes like metallic, stone, suede etc should be shown at least in decorative coatings. It would be great if the manufacturers/suppliers of the products supported this with product supply.
Regards to lime washes etc, this is why the understanding of the old Kalsomine products as a traditional finish to older homes was/is important to apprentices when learning about paint defects and the cause of paint peeling and flaking on ceilings.
Old ceilings that were painted with kalsomine (powder and water mix) if not washed off and was painted over by oil base paint (as an example) will over years peel and flake off. This is because the kalsomine should have been washed off before any subsequent coating was applied, say oil base flat, 60-70s. Kalsomine returns to a powder form over the years after being applied. Consequently you have the plaster surface with a powder paint/surface followed by a oil base paint. the oil base paint is no longer adhering to the plaster because of the powdered kalsomine therefore the paint film lets go of the adhesion to plaster resulting in peeling/flaking paint.
Finally I think the extra emphasis needs to be placed on Paint film and how to remedyies and defects, types of paint and surface defect (surface, paint type and application method/technique), what causes defects and how to remedy.
This info determines surface prep, types of coatings to be used and application techniques etc.
All this results in time on the job + cost for accurate estimating. Also client satisfaction in confidence with the tradesperson doing the work has professionally rectified an issue.
Lastly, regarding the comments on TAFE training. For a long, long, time, TAFE was the only facility training people in the trade of painting and decorating. It carried the load for a long time in training tradespeople, and for a long time and it would appear still, has little support or thanks for its effort when no one else was there, and I will throw in major trade associations in that mix. Iam not saying for one minute it has been perfect, because I have worked under its umbrella and I know at times it hasn't. As much as the introduction of private RTO's has made training more available to everyone, the quality offered has from my experience been questionable, and still remains so in my opinion.
Michael Clark
44 years Painting and Decorating, qualified trainer in P& D since 1987.

Posted on 6th April 2019, 8:46pm

10 | Peter

I agree with some and not others we do not need wall papering as a core unit it should only be an elective I am a second generation painter and decorator I've been painting 22 years now my father is a painter from England holding city and guilds he has not gilded since tafe we rarely do marble or even wood graining anymore these should be deleted or made elective and who in their right mind is going to wallpaper a ceiling! Its virtually cheaper to put up a new ceiling now. I had a very long and good conversation with someone the other day regarding these matters removing these is not watering down our trade it is simply making it more RELEVANT these need to be and should be removed from core units spraying and glazing should stay but remove the guilding and marble and graining and wallpaper these are rarely done and the people who do it speacialist in that field

Posted on 25th July 2019, 4:57pm

11 | Daniel Wurm

Re: wallpapering ceilings. Yes, I totally agree that this is rarely done in Australia. It should be in the advanced wallcoverings units as an elective, not in basic wallpapering. I fought hard for common sense, but TAFE wanted to force everybody to do it.
Re: Dumbing down of the trade. There is now an EXTRA two subjects in the course, and it is now even harder to get qualified. This means that to complete your apprenticeship or get a licence you now have to do 29 subjects. Compare this to the 1980s, where you only had to do about 22, or 2019, where you only had to do 27. Most of the painters complaining about 'dumbing down' would not pass the latest course because they have never been taught about protective coatings, lead paint stripping, asbestos encapsulation, EWPs, etc. The trade has not been dumbed down, but the problem is that it has not been taught properly. TAFE teachers have been spending weeks teaching apprentices how to do marbling and woodgraining (things most of them will never ever do again in their entire life), and forgotten to teach them the basics, like how to identify faults, trouble-shoot problems, follow a specification, conduct moisture tests, adhesion tests, wet film tests, which are key to quality workmanship. These things have all been added to the course, because believe it or not, they have never been included in the course until now!
Re: on-site training
It is interesting that some TAFE teachers oppose on-site training. I wonder why that might be???? Common-sense says that on-site training is the BEST form of training, because it is real training on real jobs. New technology allows apprentices to learn the important theory on-site, instead of in a classroom with books and pens. Secondly, on-site training is one-on-one with the apprentice, or in small groups of students. This is obviously better for the student because they can get customised help from the trainer, instead of sitting in a classroom with dozens of other students.
As trainers we have a huge responsibility to train the next generation. We must train apprentices for the way the industry is, not how we remember it. The reality is that in 2021 the majority of painting contractors specialise in certain parts of the trade, eg. repaints, heritage, new, commercial, industrial, maintenance etc. Also, people are naturally better at certain skills. Not all painters have the patience and interest to be good at marbling, but they might be better suited to using two-pack epoxies on a mine in the outback. This should be celebrated and encouraged. I believe the way forward is for the training to reflect this and allow employers and apprentices to specialise in different streams; eg. maintenance painting, heritage restoration, decorative painting and industrial painting. There should be more choice, more electives, not less. That will be a fight for another day.

Posted on 14th November 2021, 4:52pm

12 | Trevor Bone

I started my apprentiship in 1964,so could be classed as a Fossil. Great to see you folk are against 'Dumbing Down' in the industry. The big hardware stores have been doing it for to long,Hold your head up and take a pride in your work,that'll help the industry.In regards to hanging Wallpaper on ceilings,it is good to learn how to do it as there isnt many ceilings in the ordinary home but there are all sorts of strange places that need different treatment.
and its handy to have the knowledge in the old storage. I had a Mural to hang a few years ago and lucky I had been taught that some patterns have to be matched by reversing alternate lengths. You never loose the knowledge.

Posted on 27th November 2021, 3:57pm

13 | Dennis O'SULLIVAN

I once fought for the traditional trade of Painting and Decorating to be retained, Construction Training Australia wanted to reduce the trade to a traineeship qualification. When I established the Painting Industry Training Centre for the benefit of the entire Industry in NSW, the Paint companies, the contractors and apprentices all wanted to be part of it. I just hope the Industry is in good hands today and hey don't dilute the skills of a Painter and Decorator.

Posted on 17th November 2021, 4:35am

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