By Donna Pawchuk
As the owner-operator of Systems Beauty College I am writing this article to help salon owners and stylists understand what beauty school is like today. We all know there are many gifted and caring salon owners who value the fresh ideas new stylists bring to their clients and, unfortunately, a few who need to give these graduates a chance to demonstrate the skills they learned in school. I have had several students visit after graduation to tell me the great news that they have started a new job. They are excited to begin their careers after nine months of school but too often their employer have told them to basically forget what they were taught. Perhaps the student is applying techniques that are different than usual so, without even being asked why they do it that way, they are told it is wrong and that the salon owner will teach them what they needed to know. Apprenticeship is an important phase in the development of a stylist but it needs to be a supportive and encouraging experience that builds on skills learned at college. Beauty colleges use adult education to ensure students go beyond knowing how to perform a skill to also understand why something is done in the manner chosen and what effect it has on the outcome.
I think I can speak for most modern-day beauty colleges and certainly for mine: they are not what they used to be. I remember taking cosmetology back in a time when the school did not allow men as clients and all the ladies were elderly with curly perms and roller sets. There was an entire wall of hood dryers that were in constant use. In the colour department, students learned some of the theory, however, they were not allowed to think on their own and formulate colour. Teachers provided the formula and had the student mix and apply it to the client without really learning why this mixture worked. Nail Technology was taught in the same way. Gel nails were barely done and students mostly learned to do acrylics by making balls. Students were able to do quite a few manicures and some pedicures, though were forced to use inferior tools. The emphasis was on basic skills and not learning the science and systems. It was expected that the student would learn more while on the job later though many had to start as shampoo girls and receptionists.
Today’s beauty colleges take a different approach. At Systems Beauty College we have a large diverse clientele which allows students the experience to be more “salon ready” upon graduation. Both the Hairstyling and Nail Technology programs have specific systems that are followed during many services that are provided to ensure consistent results. Students are taught to ask, analyze, and assess the task at hand. They formulate colours and know what types of chemicals are necessary to complete the job in the best possible way. We now have practice hands and fingers to learn and practice on, along with quality tools that will last for several years in the industry. Students are now trained in both male and female services. Advanced techniques are taught within a learning system that understands you must learn to walk before you can run, so not everyone advances at the same pace. The focus is on giving the students the skills and the understanding of how to use those new skills as a salon-ready professional stylist.
Graduates from beauty colleges have good basic skills and some more advanced techniques. The industry needs salon owners that will allow them the freedom to demonstrate what they know and guide them in progressing to the next level of knowledge and experience. There are a few government programs in place to assist employers with wages when hiring apprentices. If you want to know more about the modern educational systems and student curriculums feel free to pop into Systems Beauty College and check us out anytime. Please know that these colleges are the future of our industry and depend on your support for our graduates. Colleges and salon owners can work together to encourage new stylists and guarantee great services to our clients.