April 2013

Jerry Tyler

Blue Highways | by Jerry Tyler


The Value of Mentoring Through Apprenticeship

Over the last 30 years I have come to see the value of full apprenticeships and post graduate training programs first hand.

They both can play a pivotal roll in forming a solid foundation to build on in the years to follow for our future professionals in the beauty industry.

Full cosmetology and barbering apprenticeships serve two purposes. First they allow the apprentice to earn wages while they are learning their craft. Secondly they are being trained in the working environment by seasoned industry professionals who pass their skills and experience on to the apprentice.

Apprenticeships are the backbone of industry training in many industrialized countries such as the U.K., Australia, Germany and South Africa. Most apprenticeships are two years.

The first and largest component of apprenticeship is "on-the-job' training. This is where the apprentice gains progressing skills in the salon and then uses them. As their expertise grows they move on to greater skill sets and are monitored as they progress.

The relationship between the trainer and student is a close one, as well as the other professionals they can learn from in their work environment. Once they reach a skill level they have agreed on they can work behind-the-chair on clients while still being monitored in their day-to-day work by the trainer and staff. This allows them to build a clientele as they are moving forward.

The second component to apprenticeship is "related technical training." This is the classroom component where the apprentice gains the educational background necessary to be board-compliant and learn the theory and procedures from the educational viewpoint.

Most apprenticeships require a pre-apprentice training period before entering the salon so they have some basic knowledge before entering the working environment. These classes are usually provided by local education agencies to assure quality education delivery.

Once the apprentice has satisfactorily completed both the "on-the-job training" hours and their related technical training, they can file for the state exam and upon passing they become fully licensed in their chosen trade.

Another important area of creating a firm foundation for future professionals is post graduate training. This is when the newly licensed professional receives training after licensure to prepare them for the requirements of the business when they are hired. Most salons and brands that employ stylists have in-house or corporate supported training programs; this is to assure a recognized quality level and promote consistency in their services and customer protocols. This training creates competent and confident new professionals.

The length of the training usually depends on where the salons are placed in the overall market. The higher the quality and pricing structure and the more demanding the expectation level of the clientele usually is reflected in the amount of time to prepare the trainee to excel as a stylist. Most companies also reward their stylists who continue with advanced education by moving them up the fee service scale as their skills expand and grow.

Some states allow student internships and that allows them to assist and learn while in school to better prepare them for when they complete their hours. This also allows them to build relationships with potential future employers and aid in placement for the schools to maintain their funding programs.

Whether you provide an apprenticeship or post graduate training the real key element is to assure true abundance for the trainee by being a "mentor."

This moves the trainer from being just an educator to a coach. Teaching, while important, is about procedures and processes. Coaching is how to use those skills and motivate the student to be their best.

Mentors guide and direct. The magic of these two educational options to enter our industry is they provide a daily learning experience in a real world work environment combined with mentoring to assure a confident, future professional prepared to succeed in our ever evolving industry.

Jerry Tyler's column Blue Highways is his "Road Less Traveled" perspective on the solutions and challenges facing the beauty industry. With over 35 years in the salon industry as an industry leader, educator and artist. He is currently "Director of Industry Relations for Carlton Hair and former Board president of the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology.