Star apprentice starts his own training centre

ISLINGTON’S answer to Alan Sugar left school at 15 with no qualifications – but now heads up a multi-million pound business.

Kevin McLoughlin owes his success to the four-year apprenticeship he did as a teenager – and is calling on the Government to make it compulsory for all construction firms to take on apprentices.

His own business, K&M McLoughlin – now one of the largest painting and decorating companies in London – has trained more than 60 apprentices over the past 12 years.

And it has just has opened a decorating school for budding workmen at its premises in Essex Road, Islington.

Father-of-five Mr McLoughlin, 53, said: “The Government has recognised that all these kids are unemployed now because there are no jobs. But they are not encouraging businesses to train more people.

“The colleges are full of kids who are doing their training but who are not going to get a job. The Government needs to make it mandatory for every building company to take on trainees.”

Mr McLoughlin was born and brought up in Collier Street, King’s Cross, as part of a household where neither parent worked.

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He attended Winton Primary School in Killick Street and the former Saint William of York Secondary School in Gifford Street, but left with no O-levels.

Yet he completed a four-year painting and decorating apprenticeship – and by his 20s, was ready to strike out on his own, founding K&M McLoughlin in 1987.

The firm now has an annual turnover of around �6million with clients such The Savoy Hotel, the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel (formerly the Midland Grand), and the aquatics centre at the Olympic Park in Stratford.

And of its 120-odd employees, around 25 per cent have come through its apprenticeship scheme.

This week, K&M McLoughlin launched its decorating school – a two-bedroom flat where the company’s apprentices will be able to practise every type of decorating.

Mr McLoughlin said: “Everyone’s perception is that children are no good. But that’s how you learn – on the job.

“Painting and decorating is a craft. You need to learn to work clean, fast and efficiently.

“Would you go to a hospital where none of the people were trained? Would you employ an architect who wasn’t trained?

“You can learn painting and decorating by trial and error, but if I took on people like that, I would go out of business.”