High-street hairdressing standards help students to put on the style

Education + Training

ISSN: 0040-0912

Article publication date: 1 August 2004



(2004), "High-street hairdressing standards help students to put on the style", Education + Training, Vol. 46 No. 6/7. https://doi.org/10.1108/et.2004.00446fab.002



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

High-street hairdressing standards help students to put on the style

High-street hairdressing standards help students to put on the style

Students at Walsall College of Arts and Technology's hairdressing department are a cut above the rest thanks to the opportunity of training in a salon that equals any in the high street.

The salon, called the Graduate Academy, is producing high-quality hairdressers who have no difficulty in finding employment and has earned the college a West Midlands award in the latest National Training Awards.

In 1998, the hairdressing department was in need of a new approach. While students studying at the college experienced a good level of training, they were not completing programmes and progressing into productive employment in industry. A governor of the college had the idea that the department should form a link with local industry, which could contribute towards the planned revamp.

The college was looking for an expert to provide specialist advice and an insight into what the profession needed from the hairdressers of the future. The link was found in the form of Francesco Group Holdings Ltd of Stafford – an organization that provides training and controls 24 salons through a franchise.

The partnership aimed to offer training to full and part-time students in an environment that would match any commercial salon locally. Students would be encouraged to progress to NVQ level 3 programmes and receive training in specialist areas such as men's hairdressing and black-hair techniques. Francesco would not only play a major role in the transformation but would also have a large impact on staff training, overall standards and customer service.

Consequently, the students began to work to high-street regulations, reflecting the needs of the town, and operating in commercial time – Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Staff were retrained to modern high-street standards, reception staff were employed and graduate trainers hired to work alongside the graduate students. This ensured consistency, as previously students had a variety of lecturers. Students attended a timetabled 19 h programme for underpinning knowledge, workshop and demonstration input, and were paid for any additional time they attended.

Francesco secured funding from supplier Wella and an interest-free loan for the salon is repaid from its turnover, including sales of Wella products which have increased 15-fold over the previous facility.

A series of images has been adopted, including corporate colours and logos and externally- produced marketing materials. Attention to details, such as offering clients coffee as part of the service, has also been introduced. Every element of the service, from initial consultation with the client to application of hairdressing techniques, has been put under the microscope to agree a consistent approach.

The project-management group made a decision that all staff would use the technical methods adopted by the Francesco Group and Wella when training students. Over a six-month period, all staff were trained in four basic cutting routines and 16 fashion cuts which are taught to students as they advance excelled.

It was discovered that a considerable number of students who wished to enter the Graduate Salon could not meet the 30 h attendance criteria, so it was decided that a more flexible timetable was required and individual learning plans needed for full time, foundation and advanced modern apprentices. This method, used today, still allows monitoring of student attendance and ensures payment for commercial time.

To mirror industrial standards, what the students knew previously as tutorials have been renamed as appraisals. Graduate students are now referred to as “stylists” to boost their confidence and help them get used to the philosophy of work.

The success of the transformation has exceeded the college's original expectations. Year-two graduate student figures increased by 100 per cent, year-three graduate figures increased by a further 150 per cent and foundation and modern apprenticeship numbers have increased by 75 per cent. Student numbers for the department have increased year-on-year, with a combined increase of 333 per cent working towards the NVQ level 3, creating a substantial increase in funding for the college.

The raised profile of the Graduate Academy has lead to frequent positive stories in the press. Local people visiting the salon have their hair done with the confidence they will receive a top-quality service and local hairdressers are clamouring for Graduate Academy-trained staff to fill vacancies.

Susan Reynolds, business-development manager at the college's hairdressing department, commented: “We now have motivated staff and students who are proud to be connected with the college and the department, which is reflected by their positive attitude when we attend events, and who demonstrate that we continually provide hairdressers of the future who are proud to shout about our industry.”

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