Lack of Young Workers? #trainthetrainer

| November 28, 2015 | 1 Comment

The Problem is the Lack of Trained Mentors

Identifying a problem isn’t a sign of brilliance. It is often the sign of a complainer. The difference between complainers and their more successful counterparts is that problem solvers need to find solutions. And the best ones figure out how to implement the solution for longer term success.

That has been one of the biggest swings and misses in the paint industry over the past several decades. We have let the average age of a painter in our field creep up over 50.

We didn’t build a sustainable industry.

This oversight is on all of us, collectively.

Everyone in the industry:

  • raw material suppliers
  • manufacturers
  • dealers
  • associations
  • magazines
  • contractors
  • painters themselves

Ask around and contractors will tell you…no one wants to work anymore.


The Kids Are Alright.

Prep to Finish in the past few years has worked with too many motivated vocational and technical students from Maine to Montana and in the largest east coast markets like Massachusetts and Connecticut to believe that the problem is lack of motivated youth seeking jobs. As the graphic above illustrates, more than 1/4 of students graduating from vocational schools do not find jobs, and P2F fears that they do so without even knowing there are opportunities in the paint world.

“It seems that tech students aren’t as aware of opportunities in the paint industry. They are more aware of and interested in the other trades, like carpentry, plumbing or automotive”, says Scott Burt, a trainer and co-founder at Prep to Finish.

P2F partner and co-founder, Todd Pudvar, agrees: “We have a real disconnect between what has become an older workforce and a potential new generation that unfortunately doesn’t really know our industry exists. Kids growing up today just haven’t been exposed to painters in any kind of positive or meaningful way, and that is the first step toward sparking an interest in what the craft is all about.”

P2F Launches #trainthetrainer Initiative

#trainthetrainerPrep to Finish has launched an awareness campaign heading into 2016, called #trainthetrainer. This mantra came into existence through a strategic 2015 partnership with Sherwin Williams to create a training program for the painting franchise, Fresh Coat Painters – an industry leader with companies in over 100 markets in America.

We took a look at what the Fresh Coat folks were doing, and worked closely with them corporately to develop the seminar content that would help their paint contracting family the most. Through this, we had our lightbulb moment that the problem of training leaders within companies is endemic of our industry today. Without well trained painters leading their companies into the field, the chances of attracting, training and retaining a motivated young workforce becomes increasingly difficult for business owners.”

This reality hit on the heels of a spring season in which P2F led several “hands-on” training clinics in partnership with the North East Council, PDCA.

“The NEPDCA reached out to us and said ‘hey, we’d like to send some of the top painters from our member companies and get them properly trained on spraying, so that they can be in charge of the spraying programs in their companies’…this helped hatch the plan at P2F that the only way to spread training at the rate our industry needs it right now is by empowering trainers with the knowledge and resources to lead their companies.”

Partnering with the PDCA has helped to accelerate that progress. Overall, in 2015 Prep to Finish taught classes in major markets such as NYC, Boston, Chicago, Dallas and Connecticut, gathering critical information at each stop, in identifying where the gaps are in paint contractors’ company training programs.

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More than a Job Description or Title



Prep to Finish emphasizes the critical mistake that many paint companies make, which is assuming that their oldest and most experienced painters are their best leaders, mentors and trainers.

“We see it often when we work with contractors”, says Pudvar, “and unfortunately in many cases the older painters are the worst candidates to lead a company into the future. You can see it in their faces, whether they are still eager to learn and improve, or whether it is their role to just resist the inconvenience of change…”

Until a company changes the way it works, and assigns the role of implementing and training operational methods based on current technologies, a company can really only hope for more hours in the day, which they achieve by just throwing more manpower at jobs. And profits are depleted through the inefficiency of overstaffed jobs.

Training the trainers to master product and then process, and equipping them with the resources to communicate that to a newer generation of painters is the only way into the future.

“Identifying the mentor or trainer in your company is not usually about age or experience. It is about enthusiasm and communication. Accountability and support,” Burt adds.

Look for Prep to Finish to hammer on the #trainthetrainer methodology heavily in 2016, with major announcements coming before the end of the year regarding venues and classes for 2016 Q1.


Category: What's Up?

About the Author ()

Scott Burt is a paint contractor, writer and paint trainer from Vermont. He writes for American Painting Contractor magazine,, and is a featured blogger at JLCOnline.

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