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Kiera is on a Level 3 hairdressing apprenticeship and works at Petroc's very own Hair Academy
NVQ 3 Diploma in Hairdressing (apprenticeship)
North Devon Campus
“I originally started at college on a Health & Social Care course, but after a year I realised it wasn’t right for me. For a while I was at a bit of a loss as to what to do next, but my mum said ‘You’ve always been great at doing hair, why don’t you try that instead?’
I’m so glad she did, as enrolling on the Level 2 Diploma in Hairdressing was the best decision I ever made – I absolutely loved it!
I’ve always been a very practical person. Someone can explain something to me several times and I won’t understand it, but as soon as they demonstrate it I get it straight away. I’ve always learnt far better that way.
I love the social side of hairdressing. I really enjoy talking to different people and making them feel relaxed and comfortable in the salon. I also like the fact that it’s a very varied job; no two days are ever the same.
When I completed the Level 2 course my lecturer said that there would be an apprenticeship position coming up at the Hair Academy, and encouraged me to apply. So I did. I went in for an interview and was fortunate enough to be offered the job.
On the Level 3 apprenticeship I spend Mondays in class, as a student. Then, on Tuesdays and Thursdays I help with the Level 2 students. As I’ve ‘been there and done it’ I know what they’re going through, and I think they find it easy to come to me for help and advice. On Wednesdays I help the stylists in the salon. This usually involves making teas and coffees for their clients, getting their colours and foils, washing their clients’ hair etc. On Fridays I run my own column and help in the salon, as well as preparing the salon for shut down over the weekend.
The Level 3 course is a lot more in depth than Level 2; you cover topics such as colour correction and restyles. Everything is expected to be completed to a much higher standard, too.
There are loads of benefits to doing an apprenticeship. Firstly, you’re earning as well as learning, which is obviously a big advantage. I think I get the best of both worlds, as I get to spend so much time with lecturers and tutors, which I appreciate I wouldn’t get in any other salon. I’m in a learning environment every single day, and have all the support which comes with that, so I know I’m really lucky.
Away from the Hair Academy I do a bit of mobile hairdressing, mainly for friends and family, which has been good for building my confidence and getting myself known locally. In the future I like the idea of being self-employed or freelance, perhaps doing wedding hair or even working in TV and film.”
Jess is on the Diploma in Beauty Therapy at our Mid Devon Campus
Diploma in Beauty Therapy Level 2
Mid Devon Campus
“I really enjoy doing my own makeup, and have always learnt better in a hands-on, practical environment, so the Beauty Therapy course seemed like an obvious choice after I completed my GCSEs.
Although I do my own makeup, it’s been really interesting to learn new techniques and be far more experimental than I ever would be on myself.
The facilities here at Petroc are excellent. We have two separate learning areas for Level 2 and Level 3, plus the tanning salon and the hair salon – you couldn’t wish for any more, really.
Next year I plan to go on to the Level 3 course, to gain more experience and give me a variety of skills to take forward into employment.
Initially I hope to find a job in a salon, but the long-term aim is to own my own.”
Aimee is on the Diploma in Beauty Therapy Level 2 at our Mid Devon Campus
Diploma in Beauty Therapy Level 2 (part time)
“After being made redundant, I decided to try something completely different – but something I’d always been interested in – so decided to enrol on the beauty course at Petroc. I had done some beauty training about 10 years ago, before I had my son, and had always thought it was something I might return to in the future.
I’m quite girly; I’ve always been into makeup and nails. To me, it doesn’t really feel like studying, because it’s something I’m so passionate about. I love every day at college, and have made some great new friends; I really look forward to coming in each week.
I particularly enjoy the massage part of the course, and am considering doing a sports massage course next year. My partner is a personal trainer, and eventually it would be nice to think we could work together in the same industry.
I’d really like to work for myself in the future, and by the end of this year I’m hoping that I can start offering treatments and start slowly building up a client base.
To anyone in a similar position to me, I’d say ‘go for it’. Returning to education can be daunting, but it’s also very rewarding. It doesn’t matter what age you are, you’ll always be welcome – you’re never too old to try something new!”
Kirsty is on the NVQ 2 Diploma in Hairdressing at our Mid Devon Campus
NVQ 2 Diploma in Hairdressing (apprenticeship)
“I wanted to do something a bit different at college, something which uses my creative skills and doesn’t involve being in the classroom all day. I’ve always been a very creative person, and loved all the art subjects at school.
Initially I went for work experience at Hair Therapy in Wellington – which is the salon I’ve always used myself – and they invited me back on an apprenticeship programme.
As well as the actual hairdressing, I love this profession because you get to talk to so many different people and hear all their stories. It’s really important, as a hairdresser, to be good with people and able to build a good rapport very quickly. People put a lot of trust in their hairdresser, so it’s important you have a good relationship with your clients.
In the salon at Petroc we get to work with real customers, which is great for building your confidence and preparing you for the world of work.
As a hairdresser, it’s really important to keep up-to-date with current trends, so you understand what clients mean when they come in and start describing a particular style they’ve seen in a magazine or on a celebrity. I’m always researching upcoming trends, too, to try and pre-empt what customers will want over the coming months.
The good thing about being a hairdresser is that it can take you anywhere; it’s a skill that’s always going to be in demand, no matter where you are in the world. My dream job would be to work on celebrity hair in America one day.”
Kelly is on the NVQ Diploma in Hairdressing at our Mid Devon Campus
NVQ Diploma in Hairdressing Level 2 (part time)
“Since the age of 17, I’ve been a full time mum - my children are aged 2, 9 and 12 - and I feel like now is the right time to do something just for me. The course is only 1 ½ days per week, so I find it fits in well around my home life.
I’ve always been a ‘girly girl’, and am a very creative person, so hairdressing seemed like a natural choice. I enjoy every aspect of the course, but I think my favourite part is colouring, as that’s where you can really show off your creativity and flair.
The facilities here at Petroc are fantastic. It really does feel like a proper, working salon and, because you work with customers, you get to practise all aspects of being a hairdresser, such as people skills and customer service, which are all really important to become a successful hairdresser.
I often have days when I doubt myself, but the tutors are always there to reassure me and solve any problems I might have. Last year I won the creativity category at the annual hair competition, which gave me a real confidence boost and since then I’ve had a lot more self-belief in my ability.
I understand that, to be successful in this industry, you have to have many strings to your bow. I’ve already done an ear piercing course at the college and am now thinking about branching out into gel nails.
Once my youngest starts school I’m hoping to be fully qualified and plan to go self-employed, as this’ll fit in better around the kids.”
Andy is on the Level 2 Certificate in Barbering and came second in the British Barber's Association's Student Barber 2015 competition
Level 2 Certificate in Barbering
“For as long as I can remember I’ve always been interested in styling. When I was younger I was the kid who would take a load of photos to the barber shop with me, to explain to them exactly how I wanted my hair to look.
This runs in the family. Both my mum and my sister are very image-conscious and I guess, over the years, it rubbed off on me, too. However, I’m the first person in my family to pursue a career in this industry.
I love the fact that you can be so creative in this job. Every day is different and you are constantly facing new challenges, depending on who walks through the door; it’s this variety that really attracted me to barbering. I could never do a job where every day was exactly the same.
The best part of being a barber, without doubt, is the opportunity to make people look the best they possibly can. It’s so rewarding to see the change in people’s confidence once they have a haircut that they really like and that makes them feel good about themselves.
Male grooming has never been as popular as it is now; it’s a multi-million pound industry. So, it’s a great time to be entering this profession. Going to the barbers is no longer about just getting a haircut; it’s about the whole experience and the salon I work in – R&G Barbers in Crediton - has really tapped into this market.
Earlier this month I came second in the British Barber’s Association national competition, and this has really boosted my confidence and got me thinking about what to do next. I’ve already enrolled on a course in London with world-renowned barber Chris Foster to learn the art of shaving and would love to do more training in the near future.
In this industry it’s vital to continuously train and develop your skills, to ensure you’re at the forefront of fashion and able to offer unique services that make you stand out from your competitors.
Once I have honed my skills, got a good few year’s experience under my belt and decided where in the country I want to settle, then the plan is to open my own barber shop.”
Sophie is on a Level 2 apprenticeship at Golds in Barnstaple
Hairdressing Apprenticeship Level 2
“I chose an apprenticeship because I thought it would be easier to learn in the hands-on environment of a salon. Also, the fact you get paid is a bonus.
I knew I didn’t want to come to college full time, as I was worried I might get bored. I like the fact that, with an apprenticeship, you get to try lots of different things and have a good balance of theory and practical learning.
Since I was little I’ve always wanted to be a hairdresser. I’d always ask for dolls for Christmas so I could practise doing their hair! So, for me, it was obvious which apprenticeship to pursue.
In the salon I like watching how the other stylists manage their time – something which is key to being successful as a hairdresser – and have picked up a lot of techniques from them. If I don’t understand anything they’re always really keen to help me, as is my employer.
I’m currently debating whether to do the Level 3 course. In the future I’d like to use my skills to travel the world, possibly on a cruise ship, so want to get the qualifications I need to do that. Eventually I’d like to either work as a mobile hairdresser or have my own little salon.
If you like learning on the job and are a hard worker, I’d definitely recommend an apprenticeship. It’s an opportunity to make a good impression in front of a potential employer, and could lead to a permanent job. It’s a foot in the door to the industry you want to work in.”
Find out more about the Hairdressing Apprenticeship at Level 2.