Why apprenticeships are good for salons and spas

Published 05th Feb 2024 by PB Admin

This week (February 5-11) is National Apprenticeship Week, and it sees the industry come together to celebrate the value that apprenticeships have – both for beauty businesses and the apprentices themselves.

We spoke with Kerry Symons, spa manager at Champneys Henlow, about what makes apprenticeships such a good option for beauty salon and spa businesses:

Why are apprenticeships ideal for salon and spa businesses?

“I was an apprentice 32 years ago, and it was a government-run scheme, but I did my training inhouse every Thursday. So, I was very pro-apprenticeships because they’d kind of disappeared. 

“The quality of therapists coming straight from college and their practical knowledge wasn’t as good. As a spa manager, I would do an interview and some people wouldn’t be able to do an eyelash tint or a proper manicure, and their movements for a facial weren’t exactly what we expected.

“As a company, we do a full week’s induction anyway, so we were teaching [college-educated] therapists about the standards we wanted for Champneys – but that week was never enough. There were certain colleges that the therapists came from which had high standards, and some had lower standards.  

“With the apprenticeship scheme, I feel that you can tailor it to your company. Things like finishing touches are a massive deal for us at Champneys. Some people would just take their hands off a client rather than continuing that movement – so we wanted to teach them our standards. 

“It’s also about the hard work ethic. I still go to a lot of colleges and do talks, and the students are on their phones, they’ve still got their coats on – the ethos is totally different. 

“For me, to get the apprenticeship scheme up and running at Champneys again was amazing because I can nurture them as a manager, and I can help inspire them for whatever journey they want to go on.

“We also have an input on what they’re trained in. We have a really good relationship with Armonia [the apprenticeship provider] and its founder Diane Hey, so there’s constant communication to make sure that when the apprentices come back to me, I know who needs to put more effort in, who needs more theory work, who needs more practice. They can get so much hands-on practice, which I don’t feel that students get at college.

“The apprenticeship gives them that dedication because it’s 40 hours a week. Sometimes you get people from colleges and they only want to work three or four days – and I never had that in me! I always wanted to work five days. I think the apprenticeship brings them back to reality.”

What additional skills can apprentices learn?

“The apprenticeship gives the apprentices a really good insight into the financial side of things. At college they don’t really teach that – they don’t retail, they don’t talk about targets. In our morning meetings, we talk about where we are with our monthly targets, who’s doing well, and that encourages them to go on further towards being a senior therapist or a premier therapist then go into management.”

How else do apprenticeships benefit the business? 

“It also brings revenue to the resort. Once the apprentice has trained and passed, they then go on to our offering as an apprentice offer, so the guest pays half price to have a treatment with an apprentice. We’re constantly bringing in revenue.

“Apprentices can also help with all the duties that make a therapist’s life easier – things like opening and closing duties. It’s a real benefit to us, and a real benefit to them as well.”

What’s the main point of difference between apprenticeships and other routes into beauty therapy?

“On-the-job training, definitely. At Champneys we offer things like floatation beds, thalassotherapy pools and mud chambers – we get the apprentices to have guest contact with them straight away, so they have the confidence in dealing with people before they actually have to touch them.

“That can be very difficult, especially from a young age when they haven’t really had a job before. So, it’s good for them to be able to communicate with guests from all walks of life right from the beginning, which is an opportunity they might not have elsewhere.”

Did you see the Beauty Therapy T Level has been delayed until after 2025? Find out more here.

PB Admin

PB Admin

Published 05th Feb 2024

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