We spoke with salon owner and hairstylist Sarah Bennett from Aura Hair Design on her experience with apprentices and why they are important to her business.
Tell me a bit about yourself and your business?
I’ve owned the salon since 2017, and every one of our stylists is part of our ethos and team, we all work to the same standard. Every member of the team is trained to Colour degree level or technician level in top brands across the world. With over two decades of experience in hair, I’ve worked as a lecturer in hair, a trainer, an assessor and have a Chartered Management Institute degree. This is really my passion.
What made you decide to take on an apprentice (or apprentices)?
I believe in the next generation of hairdressers, there will be a skills shortage of hairdressers working in salons in the future. There will be a shortfall if we don’t take on apprentices, the next generation won’t come through. I believe in apprenticeships, it’s a good blend for learning in college and in salon.
How did you find setting up the apprenticeship?
It was so easy; I found my own apprentice and they were very happy for her to come into college. They helped her set up IT things online and set up the government things, so supportive throughout. Helped set up the digital account and get the right paperwork sorted. It’s really great for staff retention and looking at forward planning.
What’s the government help like for you as a business?
I get the levy and that’s really helpful towards training. It gives me money to help train her, give her equipment and send her on courses.
What’s it like having an apprentice in the business?
It’s amazing, it makes us all look at our own skills, reflect on our practices and get us up to scratch. It’s so good to have them in salon because they get to understand both, the training and the social skills, the problem solving, punctuality, customer service. All the extras that people don’t think about when it comes to hiring someone. You can’t always teach these things in a college environment. Plus, it’s really fun!
What do you think is the biggest misconception about apprenticeships?
People think that if you have an apprenticeship, you are limited in your career. But that is not the case, it’s just another route in. I feel that people don’t realise that you can go so far. Full time learning doesn’t suit everybody. You are learning and working, it might be perceived as harder work, but it’s good to learn different skills including time management and multi-tasking.
How have things been for you during the pandemic, how has having apprentices changed in this time?
It’s been a shame that I’ve not been able to send her on as many courses, and she’s missed out on a bit of training. But I’m saving the money I got from the levy and other things so I can get her out onto other training courses, and really give her the best training I can when I’m able.
Would you hire more apprentices?
I’ll definitely hire more, it’s a great way of hiring people and making sure they are a part of your team, it’s also really nice to give other members of my team the chance to be mentors.
What would you like to tell people about hiring apprenticeships?
I think it’s an easy system, it’s not hard. You need to be mindful that you are training them and have either yourself or someone else to mentor. You can work with the college closely. I really enjoy mentoring people, so it’s great.