TyneMet students Matthew Cullen and Tayyid Abu have boosted their careers by excelling on painting and decorating courses which have led to full-time apprenticeships.

Both attained Level 1 and Level 2 diplomas and are now part way into a one-year NVQ in which they spend four days-a-week with their employer and one day in college.

Matthew’s apprenticeship is with Whitley Bay-based David Smith Decorators, and Tayyib’s is with South Tyneside Homes. 

1 - Matthew Cullen:

Matthew Cullen, 20, from High Heaton, swapped bread for brushes when he started a one-year Level 1 painting and decorating course at Tyne Metropolitan College.

A baker for two years, he was inspired to take up painting and decorating after doing-up his grandmother’s home in a two-week job that changed the course of his career.

He enrolled at TyneMet after coming to an information open day, and was soon learning the new skills he hopes will one day lead to him running his own business.

Matthew said: “I’ve always been good with my hands and had wanted to learn painting and decorating for some time – my courses have been perfect for that.

“Baking for a living was fine, but I knew I needed a change. I painted my grandmother’s house, and from that everything fell into place.

“I looked online at TyneMet and found what I wanted straight away and followed it up by attending an open day which gave me all the great advice I needed.

“The college’s lecturers have been fantastic, very hands-on and always there to give you help when it’s needed. They have made learning very enjoyable and rewarding.

“I’ve really enjoyed the practical side of my courses at TyneMet, when I’ve been able to learn the real painting and decorating, but the theory part has also been good.

“I’ve worked hard and, combined with the excellent courses and teaching, has meant I have gained an apprenticeship with a company I enjoy working for.

“I’m learning new skills with them and also getting to meet the public through my work, but I’m still also benefitting by spending a day a week at TyneMet.

“One day I hope to have my own painting and decorating business, which is something I wouldn’t be able to even consider if I hadn’t enrolled at TyneMet.

“I was a baker, but now I’ve swapped bread for brushes – and I’ve never looked back.

“The college is very good and the lecturers and facilities are excellent. I highly recommend the diploma courses to anyone interested in becoming skilled in painting and decorating.”

2 – Tayyib Abu:

Tayyib Abu, 23, from Heaton, has transformed his life through painting and decorating programmes at Tyne Metropolitan College.

Before coming to TyneMet, he admits he lacked the drive and ambition to succeed, aspects of his life that have changed since enrolling.

It was a phone call from TyneMet painting and decorating lecturer Dave Metcalfe that truly inspired him to take up a new skills challenge.

Tayyib said: “My career was going nowhere. I was moving from job-to-job, and none were very satisfactory. Then I found TyneMet College.

“Where once I flitted from job-to-job, including warehousing, I’m now learning a highly skilled occupation.

“I got in touch with TyneMet to find out about its painting and decorating courses and very quickly lecturer Dave Metcalfe got back in touch to ask me to come in to see the facilities.

“Straight away, it was obvious how enthusiastic TyneMet’s lecturers were about the opportunities the college could give me - that inspired me to find out more.

“I had looked at another North East college to see what they had to offer – three years later, I’m still waiting for them to call me back.

“Staff at TyneMet really want you to do well and they give you all the support you need to achieve. They make you feel at ease and comfortable with what you are learning.

“I’ve loved every minute of my time at TyneMet, especially the hands-on practical side, but even the theory part of my courses have been enjoyable.

“What I like best about painting and decorating is adding the finishing touches to jobs, including doing the skirting boards, and I even enjoy taking wallpaper off.

“Due to taking courses at TyneMet, I secured an apprenticeship with South Tyneside Homes, the housing arm of South Tyneside Council.

“My apprenticeship is a great opportunity for me to get ahead, I am learning skills that are adding to those that TyneMet has taught me. My future is now very bright.

“With South Tyneside Homes, I am going into houses and community centres, and helping to do some great work.

“I knew I needed the skills to get ahead – TyneMet has given me everything I needed. I am gaining the skills that will last throughout my career.

“Anyone who is interested in a career in painting and decorating should strongly consider doing their training at TyneMet. It’s the best place to learn.”