Kelsey Pexton is an automotive spray painter at Arnold Clark in Glasgow, based at their Kilbirnie Street body shop. She is supported by GTG Training’s Automotive Training department, a vocational training centre for the motor trade, also in Glasgow.
“…The men in my workplace treat me just like one of the guys… I’ve had great support…”
Please can you tell us about your career to date and what made you want to become an automotive spray painter?
I’m currently in my third year of my spray painter apprenticeship. I had finished my fifth year of school and was applying for different apprenticeships and college courses and I happened to come across the GTG Training website and immediately loved the idea of spray painting, so I went for it and applied. It was never something I planned on pursuing as a career but I’m very happy that I took the gamble.
What does your role involve in a day-to-day basis?
My workday usually consists of preparing customer’s vehicles to be painted, and I spray paint the vehicles too. I also help out with workshop maintenance, to ensure that it’s kept clean and tidy.
How are you combining work and study and what qualification will you end up with?
Managing work and study isn’t actually too difficult as most of the studying, assessments and work tasks are done at the GTG Training Centre. Some paperwork does have to be done at your workplace but usually you can find the time before or after work to complete it. At the end of my apprenticeship I will achieve an SVQ Level 3 Body and Paint Operations (Refinishing) qualification.
What sort of opportunities are there to learn new things and develop your career at Arnold Clark?
Every day there are opportunities to learn new things. What I find most exciting about the automotive industry is that things are changing and developing all the time. Even when my apprenticeship has finished, I know I’ll still be learning in the trade.
How have you found working in a typically male industry?
At first it was very nerve-wracking and scary but after a short while it didn’t faze me at all. The men in my workplace treat me just like one of the guys! There can be the odd person in the industry who is uncomfortable working with a woman, but overall it’s not as bad as it’s made out to be.
What do you love most about your job and why?
My favourite thing about my job has got to be spray painting vehicles, as well as mixing and matching paint to find the right shade for different vehicles.
Have there been any challenges for you?
Fortunately for me I’ve never come across any great challenges while doing my apprenticeship. I’ve had great support both at home and at the workplace.
What is your advice for other women and girls who’d be interested in careers as automotive spray painters?
My advice would be if auto spray painting is something that interests you, then you should go for it and apply. It is a great opportunity that shouldn’t be missed. It’s something very different and unusual.
What is coming up next for you and Arnold Clark?
Next for me would be to complete my third year and my last year of college. Then I’ll be looking forward to moving on to the final year of my apprenticeship and gaining my full qualification.