Posted in Features

Dulux Academy

Dulux Academy Posted on 25 November 2022

Vickie Mather at the Dulux Academy

Want to brush up on your wallpapering skills or get your hands on the latest spray equipment? The Academy can help you with that. We speak to Vickie Mather, Dulux Academy Lead at AkzoNobel.

Dulux Academy has been on the go for six years, providing training for decorators who want to enhance their skills in all sorts of areas. They might be an apprentice at the start of their career or a sole trader just looking to build their confidence in running their business. Dulux Academy can help.

The flagship Dulux Academy is located at the AkzoNobel UK Head office in Slough. Here attendees will find a state-of-the-art complex, purpose-built with decorating in mind. Dulux Academy also partners with 13 colleges and Dulux Decorator Centres around the country, with South Lanarkshire college being the current base in Scotland. Plans are afoot to branch out into other areas of the country, so watch this space.

Decorating Matters spoke to Vickie Mather, Dulux Academy Lead at AkzoNobel, and we asked her why a working decorator should take time out to attend a course there. 

“There is always something new to learn,” says Vickie. “They might have spent half their working life doing nothing but painting, then along comes a job where they have to hang some expensive wallpaper for a customer. Now, they know how to hang wallpaper – they did it on their apprenticeship – but that was more than 20 years ago. So, when they come to the Academy, they can work on getting those skills back.

“We see a lot of people asking about wallpapering actually. No one is hanging woodchip anymore, it’s all about feature walls, with some of the rolls hand-printed and costing hundreds of pounds. We’ve even seen some wallpaper where you get a pair of white gloves to handle it, it is so expensive.

“We work with suppliers and get samples of almost anything that is available on the market, from wallpaper to spray guns. We have the latest equipment here for people to try out from leading suppliers across the decorating industry. We try to offer a broad range of options, just like in the real world.

“There are lots of people coming through the Dulux Academy who have learnt on the job with their family, and they showed them a certain way of doing something. There’s always another way, so we try to walk them through the options. 

“Spray painting is very popular at the moment, so there are older decorators who have never experienced it as an apprentice. Again, we work with the main manufacturers, and at Slough we have a Graco-sponsored spray theatre, with all the latest equipment to try.”

Vickie is keen to stress the quality of the team at the Dulux Academy too. All our Skills Development Consultants are time-served and have run their own businesses, so they know what the delegates want to get out of the courses. In fact, it’s not all practical skills, there is a business element to the courses too, with topics such as cash flow, marketing and social media on the agenda. The Dulux Academy also covers health and safety, including first aid for mental health. 

“It’s a great learning environment. We don’t want the training to be a daunting experience, so we try to make things very informal and put the delegates at ease.” Vickie continues: “The painting and decorating courses follow four fundamental areas – Product, Innovation & Application, Sustainability, Business Skills and Colour & Design. The last one is something that we want more decorators to be more confident in. Often, they are asked by a client for advice, so they need to be sure that the colour schemes they are suggesting will be right for the room they are decorating. This can be done by producing mood boards or utilising the many digital tools out there that can show a room in a variety of different colourways.

“The pandemic was a terrible time,” remembers Vickie. “However, we began a series of online live webinars which were free to attend. People could ask questions as they were watching the livestream and it definitely helped us keep in touch with the decorating community. 

“We are also trying to help apprentices around the country. We’ve introduced an Apprentice Season Ticket, which [for a fee of £200 + VAT] allows the holder access to exclusive events and activities, an online learning hub and, of course, attendance at face-to-face Dulux Academy courses at locations across the UK. Apprentices need to enrol through their employer. There is definitely a demand for the courses,” Vickie added. “People want to know the right way to do a job and we can help them with that. Prices do vary but, in general,  a one-day course is £150 + VAT, while a two-day course is £275 + VAT. We’ve based these prices on a typical painting and decorating day rate, and they are not unreasonable. Find out more at 

“If they’re already running their own business, delegates can claim this back as a legitimate expense, or seek help from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) Skills and Training Fund. The Dulux Academy is an Approved Training Organisation, so we tick all the boxes. At the end of the course, delegates will receive a certificate of attendance, along with an improved confidence in their skills and the knowledge that Dulux Academy is on hand to help support as they continue to learn and develop. We are here to support decorators at every stage of their career.” 

For more information on the Academy and the new HUB page, see