Guest blog: are college courses equipping therapists with the skills employers need?

Laura Sheridan, head of beauty and wellbeing at fitness, beauty and IT course provider The Training Room, shares her views on the recruitment crisis in the salon and spa industry, and offers a new perspective – as an educator who spends a lot of time with the next generation of therapists.

The problem and the solution

Changes need to be made on both sides to solve the recruitment crisis. Schools need to develop their therapists’ social skills and prepare them for the big bad world and recruiters need to invest in their staff – both current and new.

Times are changing and a work-life balance is desirable to everyone, not only young people, so hiring staff who are willing to work freelance to fit the job around other commitments will help everyone.

The millennial stigma

I work with many talented, hardworking and ambitious individuals who have very high aspirations. However, there is a misconception that millennials are lacking in work ethic, communication skills and are glued to their phones.

We have to accept that technology is the way the younger generation communicate globally, so instead of reprimanding it, we need to teach new recruits the art of face-to-face communication because they will only learn through experience.   

Unsociable and undesirable working hours

New therapists who have done their research will be aware that the industry sometimes requires unsociable hours. Many students come to us later in life and prefer the unsociable hours – to work around their children and partners – so recruiters should also consider them for work.

They are always looking to work around other commitments, so they could potentially be your staff for evening and weekend work.

Work experience – from class to salon floor

There have been complaints that new therapists have no work/life experience and are not prepared for the workload. Any good course will try to ensure students are aware of the hard work and prepare them for it.

At The Training Room, we guide our students into a work place that will be suited to their skills and needs, and we have employers come to our open days to discuss the salon environment.

We aim for students to leave us “industry ready” by selling our courses as a “career” and encouraging them to get a job at the same time. We offer a three-year career support programme and have numerous partners that offer guaranteed interviews to all our students.

Alongside our ITEC courses, we offer professional development courses and career support.

New approach to hiring

If therapists lack experience on the salon floor, you should invest some time to train them up. Also, instead of finding new staff, I advise trying to hold on to the good staff you have and create a culture where people stay in their jobs for a long time, progressing within the company up to management.

Short courses and fast track skills

Fast track courses are essential in the world we live in today. We must move forward with the times alongside all other industries. People consume information in bite-size measures and expect everything quickly, and it is the same with education. 

Their skills are not any less, they just do it intensively. Especially those that are re-training – they don’t have the time or capability to take one or two years out to learn new skills.

Laura SheridanLaura Sheridan is head of beauty and wellbeing at fitness, beauty and IT course provider The Training Room.

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