What Do Hairdressing Apprentices Actually Want?

Published 10th Feb 2024 by hjiadmin

To celebrate National Apprentice Week, we spoke to hairdressing apprentices from across the UK to get the lowdown on what they want from their apprenticeships. They cited work/life balance, job fulfilment and clear career progression as the non-negotiables when it comes to their apprenticeships. They also recognised sacrifices had to be made and that sometimes advancement comes at a cost (particularly to their pay packet!) It makes for fascinating reading…

Megan Smith at Ark I Tec Salon, Bradford

What has been your apprenticeship journey?

My apprenticeship journey started off with a rocky start as I began just before Covid-19. Because of this, it has taken me a bit longer to get near the end of the apprenticeship, after it took me almost a year to secure an apprenticeship due to the lockdowns.

Did your school give you information about apprenticeships?

No, they only gave us information about colleges.

Why did you choose a career in hairdressing?

I didn’t always want to do hairdressing. In my first year of college when I left school, I did childcare, but I soon noticed it wasn’t for me. I decided to give hairdressing a go because it was more practical, and I also liked the idea of an apprenticeship because I would be getting paid while learning how to do the job. I also love being in a salon environment.

Do you think there needs to be more awareness made about hairdressing being a successful career route during school?

Yes, definitely. I feel like hairdressing is just pushed to the side. I don’t feel like they give a good impression on hairdressing.

What are your future goals?

My future goals are to open my own salon one day.

Lacey Pedley at Charlotte Paints Hair Studio

What has been your apprenticeship journey?

My hair journey started 15 months ago as an apprentice and it has been better than I could have ever imagined! I was fortunate to have been in a salon that is very hands on and very colour orientated which meant that I was in a position to produce work at a high level, leading to many competition entries and for my work to be noticed regularly and reposted by numerous well known brands in the industry. 

What do you say to people who say hairdressing isn't a great career choice?

Leaving school I felt as if I was shamed for choosing hairdressing, as it's seen as "the easy option." However hairdressing is anything but easy. You have to learn skills such as, taking an interest to all ages and finding something in common, social media and marketing skills, and how to present yourself well in a forward facing job. In this industry you never stop learning, you get to use your creative mind everyday and have countless opportunities thrown your way - there's always something new and exciting to be a part of. 

What salary would you like to have as an apprentice?

As an apprentice, I feel the wage is low and it can be frustrating if you feel as if you should be given more because your job is to help multiple people in your environment as well as trying to learn alongside that and attend college all at once. However, at my salon half way through your apprenticeship you are moved to minimum wage which I think is nice as it's seen as a reward for all your hard work. It's also an incentive to push yourself to perfect your skills to get straight onto the shop floor running a column. 

Do you think there needs to be more awareness made about hairdressing being a successful career route during school?

Yes, definitely. In school you are seen as a failure if you don't attend college and university after. However, I think as long as you're passionate about what you want to do then you will always do well and succeed. For me, if I stayed in college after school I would have just felt forced – I knew deep down I was creative, and I wanted to be hands on letting my creative juices flow. So, I left college and started my apprenticeship and I couldn't be happier. 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years' time?

In five years time I want to be head colourist at my salon creating bespoke looks. I also see myself as a teacher, encouraging and guiding passionate individuals who have an interest to hairdressing like myself to do well in the industry. Eventually I would love to have my own salon or academy, to provide a fun and safe space for my future employees to grow and learn, similar to the journey that I have experienced, as I know not everyone receives this and resorts to leaving the industry.

Tom Rowley at HB Boutique

What has been your apprenticeship journey?

It started in April 2021 at HB Boutique, and I have loved every second learning so many different skills in and out of hairdressing throughout the amazing training and opportunities I’ve had. I’ve progressed so much throughout my journey, working really hard and having amazing support from my colleagues.

How important is work/life balance to you?

I love my job and I want to keep pushing myself to progress in the hairdressing industry, so in most of my free time I choose to research and practice to improve my skills.

What salary would you like to have as an apprentice?

I don’t mind what salary I get as an apprentice, as long as the governments requirements are met. I’m always learning new skills which is more valuable to me, as in the future this will hopefully allow me to achieve lots in the industry and become successful.

Do you think more information needs to be available about hairdressing apprenticeships in school?

I think it would be good for schools to give more information about hairdressing apprenticeships as it’s a highly skilled profession with no limits – you can choose to keep pushing yourself to become better. You also learn so many amazing life skills like communicating with people of all ages, which only builds confidence.

Have you had to sacrifice a lot for your apprenticeship?

I chose to stop doing certain things and sacrifice some of my time to focus more on learning and improving as I want to be successful in the industry, and I just love everything about hairdressing.

What are your future goals?

My future goals are to enter and win the BHA’s and to become well-known and respected in the industry. I’d also love to create a successful modern chain of salons to create trends and pass my knowledge on to others, as well as dive into celebrity hair and tv, work with amazing brands and have lots of amazing experiences.

Amelia Hurst at Alice and The Hair

What has been your apprenticeship journey?

My apprenticeship journey has been very exciting but also challenging. I started my apprenticeship in November 2021, and I’m now close to completing it but I’ve loved every minute.

Why did you choose a career in hairdressing?

I love being creative and having the freedom to learn. I love how you can always be learning and given new ways to do things, and I also love being able to give people the hair of their dreams.

Do you think there needs to be more awareness made about hairdressing being a successful career route during school?

I do. I think there is a very big stereotype surrounding hairdressing as a career and people can often put it down. I don’t think people realise how successful you can become by being a hairdresser.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

I see myself busy with a full client base that I love, and I also see myself going into education and training other people that want to be hairdressers.

Zack Hammond, Hooker & Young

Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

I want to complete the Schwarzkopf Colour Master degree and my long-term goal is to have my creative work published – getting the front cover of HJ would be a dream!

What do your friends think of your career?

My friends crack jokes about my career from time to time, but I don't take offence. I’ll be the one laughing when I’m more successful than them! 

Do you have a mentor? If so, who is it? If not, would you like one? Why?

Paul Ferguson, Gary Hooker and Michael Young. If I’m half as talented or successful as those guys I’ll be happy. 

Do you think anything needs to change to the current apprenticeship scheme? 

Very few of my friends have chosen to do an apprenticeship. I think young people struggle to see the bigger picture and want money instantly. Maybe they think they will be more successful going to university. I’m confident that’s not the case!

Ellie Hare and Tyla Simmons, Sarai Hair and Beauty

Have you had to sacrifice a lot for your apprenticeship?

Ellie: The only aspect I have had to sacrifice is my salary as I used to worked full time. However, long term it will be more beneficial as I’ll have my dream job. 

What’s been your favourite part so far?

Tyla: I love completing a challenging colour. It’s so rewarding, especially when I get good feedback.

What salary would you like to have?

T: Earning whilst you’re learning is good, however it can be hard when you aren't getting paid as much as your friends.

Do you have a mentor?

T: In our salon we have a training mentor and a wellbeing mentor.

Tia Kingh, Errol Douglas Salon, Belgravia

Where do you want to be in a years’ time?

I want to be a colourist at Errol Douglas. I have recently passed my NVQ level 2 qualification with a distinction so hopefully I’m on the way! 

What salary would you like?

As with many vocations, it can be a struggle to manage on an apprentice’s salary. But I knew this when I chose hairdressing as a career – I view it as a short-term sacrifice to get to the point where I am doing what I love and earning a competitive salary.

Do you have a mentor?

Yes, Errol Douglas. He gives me opportunities to learn, gain confidence, meet new people and help out at events which is not only exciting but inspirational too.

Kane Harrison, Christian Wiles

Why is hairdressing a great career choice?

Hairdressing is such a rewarding job because you can make your clients feel happy, even when they’ve had a bad day. 

How did you find your apprenticeship?

I completed 40 hours work experience at Christian Wiles when I was in college, then I applied for an apprenticeship. 

Do you think there needs to be more apprenticeships?

Yes, they give you fantastic experience in the working world and show employers that you can work at a fast pace. Plus, you earn while you learn.

Tania Sayahi, Headmasters Mayfair, London

What are your future goals?

In 5 years’ time I want to be a L’Oréal Professionnel Colour Expert and become a member of the Headmasters Art Team. 

Why is hairdressing a great career choice? 

The opportunities that come with a career in hairdressing are vast and there are so many successful people to aspire to. 

Who is your mentor?

My in-salon educator Jowana. She is motivating, an amazing teacher and always teaches me the most effective techniques.

Daniel Walker, Blue Tit Clapton, London

How important is work/life balance to you? 

Hairdressers are creative and it’s important we have the time to pursue other interests. At the very least it keeps you inspired at work. 

Are you enjoying hairdressing? 

I feel so grateful to be in a job as fun and creative as hairdressing. Even being able to wear your own clothes is liberating. Working somewhere you feel valued and looked after has an impact on moral. 

What do you think of the current apprenticeships scheme?

It felt like the NVQ could be clunky at times and it was hard to feel like you were progressing. I also think the system could be more accommodating to older students who want to learn the trade. 

Check out our full schedule for HJ's Apprentice Week here!



Published 10th Feb 2024

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