How salons and colleges can collaborate more to train beauty students

Reaching out to the next generation of beauty therapists and getting them excited about working in our industry has never been more important, especially with the ongoing recruitment crisis, which is why we need to strengthen the working relationships between salon owners and colleges.

The therapist of the future is grown in the college environment and, unfortunately, when I’ve taken on some newly qualified students in my business Beauty Time in Cleeve, the pace of the busy working salon and high standards required to work within it has shocked them.

As one of the vice presidents of the International Federation of Health and Beauty Therapists, my role involves visiting colleges throughout the UK and explaining to them what is expected from them by employers once they qualify. 

For many salon owners, when they employ newly qualified therapists they often have to go through the process of retraining them in some of the key skills, which ends up costing time and money. Something has to be done to make things better.

What is the solution to this problem?

At Beauty Time, I offer colleges the opportunity to take overmy salon and run it as a commercial business. Students work directly with my full-time therapists who act as the clients, and this experience has proven to be invaluable for students.    

The pace is set for them like a real salon, with clients running late or not being suitable for the treatments they’ve booked themselves in for. The idea is to put them in situations where they have to think on their feet, finding alternatives to offer when there have been contraindications.   

I only offer this training environment twice per year and I foot the cost. Although it may sound like a big undertaking, it works for several reasons. Firstly, I set it up as a treat for my therapy team – they can receive treatments from the students while teaching them the skills needed to work in a busy salon environment. For the students, this is their chance to learn what it’s like to work as part of a team and what client expectations are really like.  

Secondly, it’s proven to be a fundamental experience for me as a salon owner because it showcases the best students at these colleges who I may take on for future employment, as well as giving me the opportunity to work with tutors to fine tune the key skills that I, the employer, am looking for. 

Maria Mason with the students

Image: Maria Mason (pictured middle) with the students

How else can salons and colleges work better together?

Inviting tutors in for complimentary treatments is another good way of pointing out your own high standards, and this in turn means the tutors are then best placed to know who among their students might be suitable for employment in your business in the future.

Another great way to work with colleges is to offer the best student at the end of the year the opportunity to shadow you for a day, gaining an insight into the industry and what a rewarding career it can be. 

Maria Mason is owner of Beauty Time salon in Cleeve, vice president of the International Federation of Health & Beauty Therapist and a Professional Beauty Awards judge.