New report shows severity of skills crisis in the beauty industry

The beauty industry is facing a skills and recruitment crisis, according to a new report commissioned by the National Hair and Beauty Federation (NHBF).

The report, ‘Careers at the cutting edge: tackling the skills shortage in the hair and beauty sector’, conducted by the Pragmatics Advisory, highlights key issues and concerns in qualification and training, recruitment and retention and financial pressures.

The report identified three broad categories to address when tackling the skills crisis: qualifications and training, recruitment and retention and financial pressures. 

Qualifications and training

Both of the traditional paths into the beauty sector (further education and apprenticeships) are facing challenges, says the report, with the number of apprentices in England more than halving from 2016/17 to 2019/20, compared to other industries, which saw an average drop of just over 20%.

When it came to the biggest threats to apprenticeships, almost half of the businesses taking part in the research stated that lack of financial support from the Government was a key issue.

Other threats included the rise in short courses and insufficient interest because of the pandemic.

Earlier this year, research found unregulated and potentially dangerous short courses were on the rise post Covid-19.

The short courses are threatening traditional routes into the sector, while potentially lowering the skill standard being taught, with one salon owner commenting that “people come out of a two-to-three-day course and thing they can do electrical facial treatments, but it’s not safe.”

Discover the benefits of taking on a beauty salon apprentice here.

Recruitment and retention challenges

Over half of all hair and beauty businesses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland currently have unfilled vacancies, with job vacancies across the UK hitting 1.3 million in January 2022, the research also revealed.

69% of respondents said recruitment has been “severely hindered” by the pandemic, with demands for higher wages and a better work-life balance contributing to ‘The Great Resignation’, as it’s revealed that UK workers do over £100,000 over unpaid overtime in their lifetimes.

With 26,000 businesses in the hair and beauty industry facing recruitment issues, the number of vacancies in the sector has risen by 132% between January 2021 and January 2022. Beauty salons are taking on average between eight to 12 weeks to fill vacancies.

Financial pressures

Obstacles standing in the way of business growth from a financial aspect include the current challenging economic conditions, wanting to stay below the VAT threshold and risk of being subject to more regulations. 

The data revealed apprentices take on average two to three years to start covering the cost of a full-time minimum wage employee.

60% of those surveyed would be more likely to take on apprenticeships in the government introduced further financial aid. A £3,000 incentive would cost the government £9million/year per 1,000 apprenticeships, while funding the minimum wage gap for 19–20-year-olds would cost £2.1million/year per 1,000 apprentices.

Read the full report by clicking here.

What do you think is the biggest contributor to the beauty industry's recruitment and skills crisis? Let us know in the comments….