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Skilled to Work: Inside the painting and drywall finishing Apprenticeship Training Center in Milan

How the Quad City Finishing Contractors Association brings expertise of union painters and drywall finishers to construction projects to local construction projects

MILAN, Illinois — The Quad City Finishing Contractors association brings the expertise of union painters and drywall finishers to construction projects across our communities. 

The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council #81 Apprenticeship Training Center in Milan is one of the places where new apprentices learn the skills they need to become journeymen in the field.

On a recent Tuesday morning, apprenticeship instructor Josh Ehrmann could be seen strapping into one of the facilities newest machines. Called a Sim-Spray, the virtual reality spray-gun trainer is a great way for new apprentices to practice.

"The motion. The way to keep your arm straight, the way you practice perfect coverage, you practice perfect motion," Ehrmann said as he demonstrated the system.

It's impossible to paint the trade with a broad brush. There's always a mix of new people coming in.

"It's changing, for sure," said training coordinator Justine Goulder. "When I went through my apprenticeship I was one of the only females going through the apprenticeship. We did have a female instructor at the time. But now, looking at applicants coming in, most of them are female coming through right now, which is really exciting."

Ehrmann says new apprentices don't need a lot of experience when they get their start.

"Young people, older people, people that are willing to be physical and work hard," he said. "I was almost 30 when I got in myself. If you’ve got a family the benefits are outstanding."

The instructors make sure apprentices have the tools they need to be successful in the field. 

"Before the big game, before going out in the field and really having to put your skills to use, you get to practice here and that’s the cool thing," Goulder said.