As the barbering industry continues to experience the strain of the current skills gap, employing barbershop apprentices may be the solution to finding the next generation of master barbers.
The rise of intensive courses that aren’t underpinned by a recognised qualification doesn’t help the skills shortage, as well know quality takes time.
Modern Barber spoke with Edward Hemmings, Men’s Hair Specialist and Educator, and Natalie Cresswell, Owner and Manager of Cresswell Barber Co., an award winning barbershop, to get their thoughts on the benefits and value of employing a barbershop apprentice.
Edward says: “Apprenticeships are the life blood of our industry. It’s how barbers build a legacy and share their amazing knowledge, helping our younger learners feel part of our heritage. It gives your shop a clear succession plan for growth and it also builds loyalty. Loyalty from customers to their barber, loyalty from barbers to the employer and loyalty within the team. Demonstrating that you are investing your time and energy in your shop’s future also outlines your professionalism as a business owner says Edward, adding: “I think there is a huge perception that apprenticeships are very difficult and expensive for the employer but there is a clear, structured path and plenty of support both in terms of training and financially.”
Meanwhile, Natalie reflects on her experience employing barbershop apprentices, sharing: “Employing people is not easy and it definitely isn’t something to go into lightly. Although ‘juniors’ and ‘apprentices’ seem like job roles that anyone can do, it’s the total opposite in my opinion.” Becoming an apprentice takes dedication, hard work and a lot of having to prove yourself she explains. “Working in the hair industry is a job that requires patience, energy, resilience and social skills that come with practice over many years.”
So what is the value of employing an apprentice? “Having another pair of hands really does help. I’ve been in this industry for 16 years and I’ve worked with and without a junior on the shop floor,” says Natalie. “Having a junior really does help speed up the conveyor-belt of clients that walk through the door and the day-to-day running of the shop. It gives a sense of superiority to the cutting team and relieves them of any smaller duties that may encroach on their cutting times.” She also advises that support is also provided by tutors: “Our junior’s tutor at college is extremely helpful and informative. We sometimes have visits at the shop from her to hear about how he’s doing and get regular updates with pictures, and sometimes he has his own clients to cut in the shop too.”
Taking on an apprentice isn’t something you should rush into, and ensuring you can dedicate the time to their development is key. “The good thing is that once you have trained them, they’ll cut to your own standards, so when the time comes to get them on the shop floor (if you choose to do so) they’ll slot in nicely with the team,” adds Natalie.
Here’s the basics on fact checking apprenticeships
- Your apprentice needs to be employed – as in on the PAYROLL.
- You can employ an apprentice from school leaving age upwards.
- You need to pay your apprentice the relevant wage for their age. Right now that’s £3.90 per hour for the first year (regardless of age) then £4.35 per hour under 18, £6.15 per hour for 18-20 year olds and £7.70 per hour over 21.
- Your apprentice should be employed for a minimum of 30 hours a week and a maximum of 40 hours a week. At least 20% of that time must be off the job training.
- You need to find your local training provider and sign up with them. Training providers like Alan d will monitor training, sign off on NVQ modules and prepare your learner for their ‘End Point Assessment’. Make sure your training provider uses highly qualified and experienced assessors. It is your training provider that has the relationship with the awarding body and who will provide the qualification.
- A barbering apprenticeship will last at least 13 months and is more likely to take 15 months.
Edward recommends taking your time in finding a learning provider before employing barbershop apprentices. Don’t JUST go on online reviews try and speak to graduating students or past learners.