The future of the tile industry is assured if proactive and talented apprentices like David Van Keekan are involved in it. David recently won the best third year tiling award at the Trowel Trade Awards hosted by Holmesglen TAFE in Victoria. These awards are sponsored by RLA Group, Parex Davco, B.A.T. Trims, Laticrete and Ardex, companies doing their bit to support young people coming into the industry.

David told Tile Today that tiling interested him because it gave him the opportunity to be creative. “I’ve always liked working with my hands to create what the imagination can think up…As a finishing trade, we learn about the process of tiling and we get to see the idea come to life…There are so many different styles of tiling and I wanted to learn them all…It makes each day different,” he said.

Working together with the client to improve the look of a room is another aspect of tiling that is important to David. “It’s a great feeling to finish a job and look back at what is achieved,” he said.

David’s enthusiasm matches his positive experiences being at Holmesglen TAFE. He said, “I always enjoyed going to trade school because I had the chance to try any type of tiling design I wanted.

“My teachers had lots of knowledge and were happy to teach me…Unfortunately we would need to smash what we tiled afterwards but there is fun in that too.”

His advice for tiling apprentices is to work hard and put in the effort in all aspects of the course because it pays off. David said, “Ask lots of questions to expand your skills and knowledge. The more you learn, the easier it becomes to work smarter not harder…attention to detail will make your work stand out from the rest.”

David is currently running his own business called Inventive Tiling and studying a Certificate IV in building and construction to help in apply for his DBL (Domestic Building Licence). He explains, “I am working towards offering specialised services and designing new products…”

Tiling awards do not happen without the support of industry sponsors. Jeff Kirkley, national business manager, RLA Group said he was initially approached by Peter Fox from Tilemart to become a joint sponsor of the trailer (pictured). Over the years, other sponsors have been asked to be involved and now the awards have six main sponsors.

Frank Vanzella, one of the teachers from the Tiling Department at Holmesglen TAFE said the Trowel Trade Awards have been established for 33 year, since 1985. The awards criteria include high standard of workmanship, completion of tasks in allocated time, good communication skills, punctuality and a positive attitude.

This course offered by Holmesglen provides comprehensive training for wall and floor tiling, and covers all practical and theoretical aspects of the trade. (Marco Parisella is the other tiling teacher at Holmesglen.)

Pictured: David Van Keekan (third from the left) won the best third year tiling award at the Trowel Trade Awards.