Recent research commissioned and funded by Image Skillnet, and conducted by the Management Development Unit (MDU) at the University of Limerick, found that there is a critical need to develop a skills and talent development pathway for hair and beauty professionals in Ireland. The report highlighted a particular need to develop and deliver a continuing professional development (CPD) framework that supports those working in the sector, and that addresses the skills needed to support further growth of the hair and beauty sector in Ireland.
According to Image Skillnet, new trends, technologies and techniques mean that the industry is always evolving, and with upskilling and talent development being an essential part of the profession, the sector continually invests in the practical skills required to deliver professional services.
As a result of the research, several key recommendations have been made, including the establishment of a sectorwide CPD framework to enhance professional recognition. Four pillars were identified to inform the development of this framework: technical skills, practical skills, business knowledge, and health and safety.
“This research illustrates what we all know very well – the hair and beauty industry is undervalued,” said Siobhan Kennedy, author, and researcher from the University of Limerick. “This investigation was as enjoyable as it was informative, and contributes to the growing evidence that the sector deserves more recognition. There is a lot of energy within the industry, we have no doubt that this framework will become a reality.”
While a formal framework has yet to be established, there are currently many CPD options available to hair and beauty professionals, all of which are easily accessible.
“CPD is absolutely vital for everyone in the industry; it helps to recognise strengths, and how to build on them, and to identify areas needing improvement,” says Ciara Heneghan, manager, Accademia, Xpert Professional’s training centre in Dublin, which offers a range of hair and beauty courses.
“It’s also hugely important within the recruitment process, in order to attract and retain quality staff. It’s not just about practical skills either – the entire salon team needs to be aware of all areas of the business, such as aftercare advice, retailing and other revenue streams.”
‘A salon that encourages and promotes education within its team will see a return on this investment when it comes to recruiting the right staff’
“Without CPD for staff, salons will lose their edge and become out of touch with the newest developments,” says Lynn Dowling, owner of Kilkenny College of Beauty & Sports Therapy. “Systems become dated very quickly in this industry, and without engaging in CPD, there will be missed opportunities to offer more innovative treatments to clients, resulting in lost revenue.”
“We live in an evolving world, where client requirements are constantly changing, as are our business models,” says Peter Stephenson, regional education developer, L'Oreal Professional Products Division. “Our industry is trendled, which means it is important to keep up-to-date with all that is happening – and education offers this.”
CPD is hugely beneficial for both the salon staff and owner, according to Stephenson. “Hairdressing is a very demanding job – no two clients are the same, with each one having different hair type, texture, face shape, skin tones and personal requirements. It takes years of experience and practice to be able to deal with all the different requirements that the client will have. Education will build practical skills, consultation skills, knowledge and confidence – it’s a continuous journey that all hairdressers must take in order to be successful.
“A salon that encourages and promotes education within its team will see a return on this investment when it comes to recruiting the right staff. Furthermore, it will increase staff retention, and boost morale and motivation.”
“Investing in a team member’s development generally results in that person feeling more valued, more motivated and, of course, more knowledgeable,” notes Heneghan. “Supporting them as they enter new territory and more advanced areas will inevitably make them more confident. All these attributes combined will lead to higher staff productivity and service levels in the salon.”
“Training gives staff a new lease of life in the workplace as they are always eager to perform their newfound skills,” says Dowling. “Refreshing their skills and knowledge will keep them at the top of their game, and promote team-building as well.”
‘Listening to a team member’s feedback on where they are now, and where they would like to be in the future, will help determine the most suitable and mutually beneficial training path’
“CPD is also an excellent way to fill skills or service gaps within the salon, whether that’s through adding on additional services or improving general services,” says Stephenson. “And this can open new revenue streams for the business and bring in new clients.”
“Better trained staff delivering high levels of customer service, as well as excellent technical services, are always more likely to win and retain new clients through referrals,” says Heneghan.
“And building a team of all-rounders, as opposed to a team of specialists, will lead to greater future stability for the business. If a salon loses a specialist in a particular area, they can be more difficult to replace. There should always be an emphasis on the team – when an entire team is focused on a common goal, there is less chance of being beaten by the competition.”
Choosing training options
When it comes to choosing what courses are most suitable for both your staff and salon, a collaborative approach is advised.
“It’s always good for the salon owner and their team to sit down together to review the education and training requirements, ideally with their education consultant,” says Stephenson.
“Listening to a team member’s feedback on where they are now, and where they would like to be in the future, will help determine the most suitable and mutually beneficial training path,” says Heneghan. “Relevant levels of experience also need to be considered when choosing courses for staff, but the experience required is generally listed by the provider in the course description.”
“Make sure you use accredited training providers,” advises Dowling. “Awarding bodies such as iTEC/VTCT, CIBTAC and CIDESCO instantly give reassurance that your provider is regulated and has to have standards in place. Choose well established ones that offer ongoing support, should you need it.
“Also check that your certification is recognised and insurable. You can shop around, but ensuring a good standard of training will be a better investment in the long run.”