Common questions about Hair and Beauty industry placements

This article looks at some of the questions that employers offering industry placements in this skill area have been facing, with potential solutions for you to consider.

  • High quality industry placement applicants
  • Customer service skills and customer loyalty
  • Client discretion
  • Time to supervise
  • Protection against mistakes

High quality industry placement applicants

Apprenticeships work well in our salons because we get plenty of time with apprentices on-the-job. How do we know what level of ability the student will have at the beginning of the placement?

Industry placements can be longer than 315 hours, so if you feel you need more time with young people to give them salon specific skills, you can work with the college or school to increase the length of the placement before offering those that are suitable an apprenticeship or an entry-level job on completion of their studies.

Whilst the apprenticeship route works particularly well for many hairdressing and barbering businesses, some employers say they find it hard to get enough high-quality applicants. This is partly due to more young people wanting the college experience, to stay close to their friends and learn with their peers before moving into a work environment later.

The young people that fall into this category will be studying Hair and Beauty T Levels rather than applying for apprenticeships. By offering industry placements you can help shape the knowledge, skills and behaviours you are looking for from entry level staff. You can work with the school or college to help shape their curriculum and to discuss minimum starting requirements to ensure students are ready to begin their placement. For example, Beauty Therapy students could study the list of therapies and treatments your organisation provides, in order to understand the terminology and the practices involved in implementing the treatments.

Customer service skills and customer loyalty

Customers return to our salon because of the friendly atmosphere. How can we make sure industry placement students have the customer service skills we need?

Industry placement students will learn about customer services, professionalism, confidentiality and discretion as part of their course, but you can also work closely with the college or school to identify students that are likely to fit your ways of working and go the extra mile for customers.

For example:

  • develop a description of the industry placement you have on offer and why specific customer service skills are so important in your salons. This should help the college or school find suitable applicants for interview.
  • work with the college or school to set up an engaging interview process which includes role playing certain situations. Offer placements to the students that impress you with their people skills, attitude and personality.

Client discretion

Client discretion, modesty and privacy are vital to a lot of the body treatments we offer in our beauty salon. If we’re not comfortable involving industry placement students in certain treatments, can we still offer a placement?

Students do not have to learn or practice every skill and behaviour in their course as part of their industry placement – they will gain all of these across their whole course.

However, industry experience will be vital in preparing students to become skilled therapists on completion of their course and the more experience of real work, the better.

If you have concerns about the types of tasks or treatments you are comfortable giving an industry placement student, talk to the college or school in the first instance to get their thoughts.

It could be that students can start their placement in your reception, learning to handle enquiries from clients, supporting senior therapists in profiling the client for treatments, understanding the need to maintain confidentiality and sensitivity, before moving onto being more involved in specific services in Year 2, as they cover beauty therapy treatments in college or school or with another employer.

Time to supervise

We don’t have time to supervise a student

You could begin by allowing students to work with your staff, before introducing more tasks that you feel they’d be able to complete with little supervision.

Over time, energetic, enthusiastic students with a growing understanding of the hair and beauty industries, should be able to make a more significant contribution.

There are also direct benefits for supervisors and mentors, such as the opportunity to develop leadership and management skills.

Some salons use recently completed apprentices as supervisors for industry placement students to help the apprentice progress in the business by learning how to delegate and communicate tasks to others.

Protection against mistakes

Mistakes in the hair and beauty industry can damage a salon’s reputation and, in extreme cases, lead to legal costs. How do we protect ourselves from students making mistakes?

First of all, it’s important to explain your health and safety policy and procedures as part of an induction with the student.

You must have Employer Liability Insurance and Public Liability Insurance in place before and during an industry placement. You can find more information about insurance in the legal compliance article, which informs you of your main responsibilities and provides links to detailed guidance and resources. If you are unsure, talk to the college or school you are working with for advice.

A brief period of induction is advised for the student to familiarise themselves with working in your organisation with your processes and therapies. Under supervision, the student can progress to applying those new skills and experience.

You can agree a structured progression programme with the student and the college or school. It is likely that students, with supervision, can carry out therapies or cut hair towards the end of the placement, at a reduced rate.

Clients should be aware and approve that they are being treated by a placement student. You should also work with the student in quiet periods to explain measures you take to avoid mistakes, such as conducting skin testing procedures before beauty treatments.

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