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The following was recently contributed to a hair magazine by Andre Nizetich who is a veteran salon-owner and educator in the Los Angeles area and president of the American Board of Certified Haircolorists.
 
It is published here with his permission...and I am in complete agreement with his thesis.
 
The 'Elephant in the room' (of the salon business) is the 30,000 new licenses being issued in California to new beauty professionals each year and where these new licensees are going to work.
 
You can advise a new beauty school graduate on how to behave on the job, how to stay motivated and how important it is to continue with education...BUT...you also need to tell them their chances of getting a job are SLIM to NONE.
  
So, there were 30,000 new licenses issued, that's 30,000 graduates with student loans and no way to pay them back.
Most students go to beauty school because they want to work in a salon that offers a decent wage, benefits and vacations.
That scenario no longer exists.
  
My advice to students is to find out if there are jobs out there BEFORE you go to school.
Look in the want ads for 'Hairdressers Wanted', go on Craigslist and see what's available.
Visit a salon where you would like to work and ask if there are jobs available.
My guess is that you will find out they want to rent you a booth or have you work on commission.
 
With the introduction of booth-rental salons, owners no longer want to train staff, that takes up a lot of time, money and effort and they never recover their investment.
 
It does no good to have a student trained to use Paul Mitchell, Aveda or any other manufacturer's haircolor if the salon they go to work for does not use Paul Mitchell or Aveda haircolor
Schools should teach generic haircolor, to better prepare their students when they come into the salon.
 
Beauty product manufacturers prosper by making and selling products. They shouldn't be flooding the market with more students than there are jobs to fill.
We salon owners are the customers they should be trying to help prosper.
 The federal government pays the schools to train people for these non-existing jobs. Does anyone stop to ask where are the clients going to come from to keep 30,000 new hairdressers busy?
 
It is the salon owners who make it possible for the manufacturers and the schools to prosper, yet the salons are on the bottom of the food chain.
If we are in this together, why are the schools prospering while the salons are struggling?
 
Something has to change.
 
 

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Schools prosper because what they sell are dreams, and dreams may or may not have anything to do with reality.
I don't really understand the whole point of this article... it's kinda vague.

 

Vague?

I don't understand how the various points aren't crystal clear Ashley but allow me to clarify them for you.

1) There is an enormous oversupply of licensed hairstylists in California and the USA.

2) There are no jobs for them to fill.

3) The California taxpayer is saddled with debt because beauty school graduates cannot get paying jobs to earn a living doing hair and therefore cannot repay their education loans.

4) The former scenario of salon jobs with guaranteed salaries, vacations and benefits no longer exist.

5) Beauty school attendees are not made aware of the lack of jobs before paying for and attending their courses and only find out that they are unemployable after the fact.

6) There are no jobs offered for hairstylists in the papers or on Craigslist, but nobody going through Beauty school has bothered to check and see if and where they might find work after they graduate.

7) Manufacturers of Beauty products who operate Beauty schools are not working with salons to provide the salons with a well-rounded future work-force but are simply teaching and promoting their own products and their use. The inplication is that in the future these schools will simply be a vehicle to steer graduates into the manufacturers own salons or those who exclusively use their products as these will be all the graduates will be familiar with.

8) Federal governmenbt loans to beauty school students are a bad investment of taxpayer money because those loans are often not repaid and the graduates too often do not enter the field after graduation or if they do they often earn wages that are too low to support themselves.

9) Salons are having a hard time in the recession while Beauty schools are prospering...How can this be right or good for the salon trade? Without salons there would be no need for beauty schools yet the beauty schools continue to prosper manily because they are not in the trade they teach but in the education field, which, unlike the salons, is often funded by taxpayer loans. 

There are other points in the article Ashley but I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the above points before dissecting it further...will you please let me know if you now see the various problems outlined and maybe you have some ideas of your own to contribute on how to address them?

I think this is a problem that applies not just to the hairdressing field, but to advanced education across the board. Colleges, universities, trade schools, etc are big business, and they make money by enrolling more students, not by filling a particular market demand for graduates. Its buyer beware in all cases, but I think even more so for mainstream college degrees that don't lead to being licensed in anything.

Also, Mitchell, I'm sure you don't intend to, (or maybe you do), but you can come across as condescending and bullying. It doesn't promote pleasant discussion.

i am in agreement with you kathleen.

You might be correct Katherine but my interest is in the hairstyling trade.

Schools which enroll to enrich their pockets do not help the hair trade. I think we could close all the Beauty schools and allow apprenticeship in salons to proliferate, that way the apprentice would learn and practice the services that the public is paying for, not finger-waves and perms on yellow rods which they are not.

Theory classes could be taught in junior Colleges one day a week and the government could give salon owners tax breaks to allow them to pay wages to the apprentices.

 

many of the best European hairdressers never went to beauty school, they apprenticed, Vidal Sassoon, paul Mitchell, Trevor Sorbie and many others never went to Beauty school.

 

As to your comment on my tone...I see nothing in my post above to support your suggestion , I asked for Ashley's opinion on the points, I said please and invited her comments...nothing 'bullying'

there at all in my opinion.

I agree with Apprenticeship totally! Many of the best stylist's I've ever met were Apprenticed not "beauty schooled".  When I lived in Toronto, I felt they had a great system doing all the Theory classes at the Jr. College!  Excellent idea, I know many States have guidelines to do so, but not many salons/stylist's are willing to take the time to train and build from within.  I know there are stylist's out there that do an amazing job w/ apprentices, but many more that don't.

I agree with you Mitchell. The best way to get into this trade is to do an apprenticeship combined with a bit of time at a college for theory/exams.

Currently here in the UK, if you go to a private school for hairdressing, you normally have to pay all the fees - there is no student loan. Not many people go this route.

However, in the past ten years here, the government has thrown money at education for 16-19 year olds (one client speculated that this was to prevent a very high youth unemployment rate), and offered free full-time state college courses in hairdressing which typically last around 2 years. The result has been a lot of 'qualified' 19 year-olds looking for work in hairdressing and not finding much. Or getting taken on as assistants and finding it hard to get on the floor.

This also means the industry has gotten a bit lazy about offering proper apprenticeships and training which leads to people becoming graduate stylists. 

As taxpayers, we should ask the government to stop providing training for vocational industries purely in a college - it needs to be tied to a business. That's what used to happen.

This is all very interesting but.  Do not all colleges and universities do the same thing?  However, I do feel there could be some kind of test or screening prior to enrollment.  Also, make the school content more challenging.  I do not think it has changed for years.  I think your thoughts on apprentiship programs are interesting and our state allows it.  However, I have never seen anyone even inquire.  I think the salon's could do more promoting of this, but then they are taking on alot of the training cost's.  And in my experience with this, you win some and you loose more.  You are right Mitchel the Government is picking up the tab for this for sure.  I am not sure the salon's are willing to take that on.  Just like schools, some salon's could do this but most would not.  What I do know is that change does need to happen. You should have the choice though. This is a great article . 

Glad that you like the discussion Nicole...

It's the schools which need testing or screening...All prospective beauty school students should know the facts about the field that they are entering before spending their money or the taxpayer's money on Beauty school, some of those facts would be...

Entry-level positions in the field are often unpaid, the employee is expected to work on commission only, if the worker does no clients they earn no wage.

Hairstyling is often a minimum-wage job.

Hairstyling, according to the Labor Department in the USA is a very low-paying job, the average hairstylist/barber earns $30,000 a year. This is close to the bottom of the earnings scale, similar to the wages earned by waitresses and house cleaners.

It is not usual for hairstylists to receive benefits from an employer. 

 

Making school more challenging would be fine Nicole, except that the State Board exam failure-rate in California e.g. is already 25-30%.

As to apprentice costs...Instead of the State paying the school to teach the student, (as much as $18,000 in my local school) they would give that money to the salon-owner who would use it to pay the worker a weekly wage for a year's training, or, the State would give the salon-owner a tax credit of that amount which would be used to pay the worker.

This would create much-needed jobs for people, the apprentice would have the chance to try salon- life, many people graduate from beauty school without having actually spent any time inside a hair salon and find that they really don't like it or are not suited to it.

 

Mitchell:

While we have not often agreed previously, I have to tell you that you have indeed hit the nail on the head with this one, my friend......and it concerns us all......I further think that "point 7" that you made is truly the heart of the matter, and, more over, is nothing short of unconcienable on the manufacturers part...One thing that also has to be touched on is the fact that, plain and simple, I dont believe the schools are doing their job.....they are providing just enough information / learning experience to pass state boards, and thats it......there are, exceptions to that, undoubtedly.....one can only presume that if, for example a young man or woman were to go to, say either the Sasoon complete cosmetology course offered at the Santa Monica School, or, Nick Arrojo's complete cosmetology school in New York, or, the Toni & Guy complete cosmetology course offered in Texas, that there is enough due diligence there to produce quality young stylists who would be a bit more advanced than, lets say someone who comes out of the "Acme Beauty School" in Osh Kosh....I'm being fescicious here, of course, and just trying to make a point.

"Selling Dreams???"  Again, correct......the media has truly glamorized our profession in the past 10 years, and I guess we can debate that, that is both a good and a bad thing.......if there is any one good thing about it, its that in many respects we are getting the respect that we deserve as a profession, however, if there is any one bad thing about it, its that the profession has been glamorized to the extent that someone who, perhaps is watching one of the reality series concerning our industry, may have a light bulb moment, and think that they are just going to segway into a high paying, highly glamorous job, and that its going to be a piece of cake, and, that being said, of course, we know that nothing could be further from the truth....But again.....I am in complete agreement with all the points that you made......

Well Antonio there are lots of things wrong with this trade I'm sorry to say and so-called 'reality' shows like Blow-Out and others really do little to improve things.

Apparently beauty schools in California aren't even producing graduates who can pass the State Board exam (25-30% failure rate in the first months of this year) which as most of us know is not very difficult to pass.

Beauty schools used to be mom and pop ventures and actually produced very well-trained graduates, because the owners were often the teachers too and their students were local kids who were going to work after graduation in local salons. As it became obvious to businesspeople that there was a lot of money to be made in beauty schools they were bought-up by companies who had little to no real interest in hairstyling, or the salons which necessarily relied on their graduates.

 

'Selling dreams' wasn't my quote, it was Blu Luc's, however, perhaps it's why there are so many dreamers in hairstyling.

 

I don't think we get any respect as a profession, mainly because we aren't a profession, merely a trade. I have argued this point interminably in the past with others in this field, suffice to say that hairstyling is an occupation, a trade but not a profession.

The 'professions' would include Law, Medicine, Architecture, Engineering...those fields in which it's practitioners have completed an undergraduate university degree, followed by post-graduate work, usually requiring a course of study of a minimum of 7 years.

A year (or less) in a beauty school does not qualify one as a professional.

 

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