Hairstyling Apprenticeship Standards – A Grey Area?

hairstyling apprenticeshipI thought I had a handle on the requirements of both the apprentice and sponsor in the hairstyling apprenticeship process.  Recently I had my eyes opened to some inconsistencies which allow many people to fly under the radar and fast track the system.  I refrain from saying ‘cheat’ the system since most apprentices do so with the consent and approval of their sponsor and the ‘system’ itself.

The hairstyling apprenticeship, for as long as I can remember, required schooling and work hours.  Work hours are spent with a sponsoring stylist who is required to teach and sign off on all the essentials skills in the apprenticeship handbook.  I’ve been through the process as the apprentice and now as a sponsor.  Imagine my surprise while registering with my third apprentice discovering an entire ‘grey’ area I had not realized existed.

Hair styling is classified as a Compulsory Trade in Ontario which after the schooling and work hours mentioned above requires a final exam to become fully licensed.  Traditionally, this is 1500 full time school hours, 2000 salon working hours, totalling 3500 hours.  The new part time Apprentice school program of 480 hours requires an additional 3020 salon working hours for the same 3500 hour total.  Seems simple enough right?  As long as 3500 hours are completed, regardless of the schooling path they choose, the hairstyling apprenticeship is fulfilled and they are able to take their final exam to become fully licensed.  And here’s where it gets interesting.

When completing paperwork for a recent hairstyling apprenticeship I was informed that if I signed off all the ‘skills’ in the handbook the final exam could be taken ‘Whenever I felt as though the apprentice was ready.’  Pardon? Ready as in she has put in her 3500 hours, right? The clarification I asked for didn’t exactly sit well with me; ‘No – she doesn’t really have to complete all the hours – just send her with a letter that says how many she completed and that you feel she is ready to take her exam’.  Well really. Where’s the consistency in that?

Just to clarify – PLEASE correct me if I am wrong.  I would love to find out that this murky grey area I uncovered is but a bad dream and there is actually a concrete system to ensure every hairstyling apprenticeship requires exactly 35o0 hours to achieve full licensing.

Most of you that know me can clearly see I’m a black and white type of person.  At a fork in the road I will go left or right – I’m not into off roading down the middle, throwing caution to the wind to rip donuts in the mud. I realize not everyone is the same but here is what really bothers me about all this.  HOW is this fair to the apprentice and THE CLIENTS? Why should one apprentice work a gruelling 3500 hours when the next one doesn’t have to? Why should one sponsor make the decision that an apprentice has completed ‘enough’ hours when 3500 is the actual requirement? Why should a client have to question whether the newly licensed hairstylist you have an appointment with has in fact completed 3500 hours?

There are provinces where hair styling is not regulated at all.  You could go into a salon and book an appointment with a hair stylist who doesn’t have a license, which you may or may not be aware of.  In that situation you rely on the reputation of the salon you are going to, their education program and the quality of their work to know whether the stylist will serve you well.  Sadly, even though there are governing bodies for hairstyling apprenticeships in Ontario, I encourage you as a consumer to do your homework.  Make your stylist choice based on more then just whether they hold their license.  Learn about their work, inquire about their training and education, ask who their sponsoring stylist was.  After all – finding a great hair stylist is really about trust! Has your hair stylist earned your trust?

Thanks for listening,

Carrie

www.cihairstudio.ca

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So you want to be a Hair Stylist?

hair stylistI read an article recently filled with great advice for hair stylists and salon owners which inspired me to write my own thoughts down on what I feel should be shared with all potential stylists.   This information could dramatically change the thought process of why they should want to enter the industry and give them fundamental insight into whether being a hair stylist is really what they want. The bottom line is – IT’S NOT ABOUT THE HAIR. Surprised? I think most people signing up for hair school would disagree with that statement, but most of us who are earning our living as hair stylists know this as fact.

I’m sure any hair stylist you ask will tell you how much they love doing hair. Coloring, cutting, styling – it’s something we are passionate about. A way for us to express our artistry and create. Basically, as artists, hair is our medium. The feeling we get from creating something truly beautiful is what drives us to continue, to find the next medium and create. Anyone who follows their passion in life or is an artistic person will understand this feeling. It’s this feeling that most young hair stylists are chasing in their journey to turn their passion of hair styling into a career.  Now if you are reading this and are a paying client I’m sure you are waving your red flag.  Sound like I’m forgetting something? You are right – there is something enormous missing and this, for some hair stylists, is where is goes horribly wrong.

People!!! Our medium is person, not a piece of canvas, not an inanimate object. A PERSON with feelings, hopes and desires who actually OWNS, USES and WEARS our art everyday! What a privilege that is for us and something that needs to be taken seriously. So tell me again why you want to be a hair stylist – because you love to do hair, right? Try again. You should want to be a hair stylist because you love making PEOPLE love their hair.

Being a hair stylist is not about you – it’s about every person who sits in your chair. Every person who hands you their time, their trust, their hair, and amazingly allows you to touch a tiny piece of their heart. Now that’s an amazing privilege and responsibility to carry with you every day. It is through their eyes that you chase your artistic passion, to bring what they are dreaming of to life.

Not a people person? Stick to working with canvas.  Trust me though – you’ll be missing out on an amazingly rewarding profession.

So you want to be a hair stylist?

Thanks for listening,

Carrie

www.cihairstudio.ca

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