Hair's to a training makeover

LAURA WALTERS
Last updated 05:00 30/03/2014
Apprentice Lily Riley
LAWRENCE SMITH/Fairfax NZ
CUTTING EDGE: Apprentice Lily Riley at Stephen Marr’s studio in Newmarket.

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A career in hairdressing is getting a cut and colour, with one group of salons revamping its workplace training programme to give students more time on the shop floor - and paying them while they learn.

An Auckland-based hairdressing salon will launch the first NZQA-accredited, industry-led workplace training programme, addressing a skills shortage in the industry.

Salon owner and stylist Stephen Marr will pilot the training programme in conjunction with Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT) to get hairdressers qualified faster, and with skills relevant to today's industry.

MIT would validate Marr's programme by providing the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) accreditation, and facilitating the theoretical aspect of the training.

Under the new programme, students would be qualified in 18 months rather than three years, as they would have been under the old apprenticeship model, because they clocked up practical hours faster, Marr said.

He had wanted to give his old training programme a makeover for a long time.

"It's more relevant."

Marr said he had been "frustrated and disenchanted" with the delivery of education in the industry.

"It hasn't been progressive, and hasn't reflected what the industry should be reflecting."

The in-salon training was the fastest and "most effective way", he said.

Twenty students would take part in the pilot programme in Marr's three salons. Once the students completed the training, they would be qualified to work in 56 countries.

There should be a strong emphasis on becoming qualified in the hairdressing industry, he said.

Marr would not say how much his business paid to put each student through the 18-month training, but he did say the cost was "effective".

The students also paid a portion of their training fees and earned as they learned.

Marr paid MIT directly for providing the online technology needed for students to access the theoretical aspect of the training.

MIT dean of faculty of consumer services Cherie Freeman said the salon acted as a "virtual classroom".

There were skills shortages in the hairdressing and hospitality industries, Freeman said.

The new model meant staff could start work straight away, and earn while they learned.

"From the academic side, it's pushing the boundaries a little bit," she said.

But jobs were available in the hairdressing industry, and people did not need to be fully qualified to start earning a living in a "realistic work environment".

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"We're not going to be held by those stale old traditions."

Traditional apprenticeships were funded by the government, and facilitated by an industry training organisation, Freeman said. Students also had to go off-site to complete the theory portion of the qualification under the old programmes.

- Sunday Star Times

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