Here at Hartlepool College of Further Education we have apprentices across the town studying Level 2 and 3 Diplomas in hairdressing and much of their learning has had to be done online during the pandemic. Salon doors reopened for the first time in months across Hartlepool this morning, it will not be just those desperate for a haircut who are pleased to enter. The industry has been rocked by the coronavirus pandemic but April 12 will be remembered as the day when, hopefully, it starts to get back on its feet again as part of the next stage of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown.
As well as the stylists and owners of the salons across the country feeling relieved, it is also worth remembering those who have embarked on new careers. Anna Campbell Hairdressing in York Road, Hartlepool, is training Emily McPartlin, 16, and Charleigh Gordon, 19, in partnership with the College. Chloe Campbell, 16, and Ellie Clapham, 16, are two of three more apprentices due to start over the coming months. College student Chloe Walker is also on a placement there.
“We have waited for the greenlight for months and it feels great to know we will all be working again from today, April 12,” said salon director Anna Campbell.“It is so important that the apprentices get that experience of being in the salon. I am passionate about apprentices because that is how I entered into the industry. That was my route 30 years ago; how I started. I have trained lots of apprentices. I am proud to look back on some of the hairdressers who have been successful from my training. It is the most important route into the industry because they get hands-on training from day one.”
Anna is a qualified trainer and assessor, ensuring her salon delivers the practical skills required to develop tomorrow’s hairdressers. Initially voluntary work is offered after interview. After gaining an insight into work in the salon volunteers can be recruited for weekend work before progressing into the full-time environment if they are a school leaver. Emily, a Level 2 apprentice, has missed out on six months of salon work during the pandemic but Hartlepool College has helped with online learning. Charleigh is transitioning to Level 3 after two years as an apprentice with Anna Campbell. She was the only apprentice in Hartlepool to come out with a distinction last year. The lockdown and tier systems over the last 12 months have seen salons closed since December 30. Prior to that they did open from July 4 until October 31.
Anna said: “From July, those first six weeks, we were inundated. The apprentices had to learn quickly and they did really well with their theory work too. The practical training has suffered slightly due to not being hands on for five months, however, this will soon be picked back up once in-salon training sessions recommence. We have a great client base. I am positive because we are a strong business, a strong team and client base - the comeback is better than the fall! Hartlepool has a lot of things going for it.”
Deborah Caygill, Hartlepool College’s Head of School for Service Industries, has nothing but praise for the preparation work the hairdressing apprentices have put in ahead of a return to the salon. She said: “Despite the challenges presented by the COVID situation the hairdressing lecturers at the college have been innovative to support the progression of their students. They have dropped training equipment off to students at home to enable them to maintain and develop their skills. They have demonstrated practical and theory skills classes online and also prepared them for exam work with outstanding results last week. Employers working with the college have been so supportive in the development of their apprentices, including Anna Campbell, Janice Auton at Poppy’s, Stephanie Edwards, Jodie at Bloggs and Hayley Manson at Style Suite to name a few. The apprentices are to be commended for their commitment during this challenging time.”