This week is National Apprenticeship Week (14th-18th March), and so we’re catching up with the current and former apprenticeships of the Omni Academy of Beauty in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, who are ‘rising to the top’.
Whilst apprenticeships have always been commonplace in hair salons, there has been significantly less uptake in beauty and holistic therapies over the past few decades. In part, this is because of the one-to-one nature of these therapies and in part is the result of the past unwillingness of salons to take on a member of staff who cannot yet work directly with clients. Over the past few years, changes to the educational landscape have triggered a growing number of both beauty and holistic apprentices being trained, both due to the Government ‘trailblazer’ apprenticeship initiative, which has seen the development of a hair & beauty apprenticeship, and also due to the increase in the age for compulsory education. As a result, apprenticeships are now seen as a viable alternative to traditional education, and according to Carolyne Cross, Founder of the Omni Academy of Beauty, is a positive and much-needed development for the industry.
So far, Omni has trained 19 apprentices since it started its apprenticeship programme two years ago including both Level 2 entry-level apprenticeships and Level 3 apprenticeships too. Apprentices and salons alike have really felt the benefit of working with a smaller training provider.
For anyone hoping to become an apprentice, there are two core options. Younger applicants of school-leaver age will be eligible to take a Level 2 apprenticeship, which focuses on basic beauty therapies and anatomy & physiology, at the same time providing hands-on experience of working in a salon. Alternatively a Level 3 apprenticeship includes a much more holistic approach to therapies, including Swedish Body, Indian Head, Hot Stone and Aromatherapy massage techniques, as well as giving students an understanding of Chakras and working in harmony with the body.
Carolyne Cross, owner-manager of Omni Academy of Beauty, said: “This year, the theme of National Apprenticeship week is ‘rising to the top’, showing how far an apprenticeship can take you. Historically, beauty and holistic therapies were not considered a viable choice for an apprenticeship, but now they have gained much-needed credibility, with lots of employers reaping the benefits. In fact, one of the comments we receive so often is how brilliant the apprenticeships are for combining theory and practical training, with the real-life salon environment, ensuring therapists come out with a sought-after and valuable skill-set for them and their employers.”
She continues “all of our apprentices have proved just how far you can get with an apprenticeship. Their own hard work and dedication, combined with support from Omni, means they are already excelling in the workplace. National Apprenticeship Week is a great opportunity to celebrate their achievements and to encourage more young people to consider an apprenticeship.”
Of the apprentices so far trained by Omni, the range of ways they are excelling beyond their apprenticeships is truly incredible. From working in established local salons to running their own businesses, the apprenticeships have been the launchpad for so much. For example, Christina Jacobs was one of Omni’s first apprentices two years ago. She was working as receptionist at a salon, but wanted to become a therapist. She started her Level 2 Beauty Therapy with Omni in January 2014 and was able to continue working in the same salon, Cloud Nine. Now aged 23, she is just completing her Level 3 apprenticeship including a number of holistic therapies.
Christina says “Working in a salon made me really want to become a therapist, but I couldn’t afford to give up working to take a full time course. For me, the best thing about an apprenticeship is that it gives you a theoretical and practical training course, delivered by highly-qualified tutors, but importantly, it also enables you to continue working and gaining experience in a real salon. This is something which is missing from other industry courses, unless the training school has its own public salon.”
Chloe Higginson on the other hand now runs her own business as a therapist, following her apprenticeship with Omni. She began her Level 2 apprenticeship in September 2014 and went on to complete Level 3 privately with Omni, while continuing to work in her salon.
Chloe says “My apprenticeship gave me a high-quality grounding in beauty and holistic therapies, but it also allowed me to fast-track my career by giving me an opportunity to gain experience within a business environment too. Now as a result, I have both the knowledge and experience to deliver treatments and am making a success of my own business.”
National Apprenticeship Week is co-ordinated by the National Apprenticeship Service and is designed to celebrate apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the wider community. This year’s National Apprenticeship week is all about ‘rising to the top’.
More information about apprenticeships, or about an apprenticeship with Omni Academy of Beauty, visit: http://www.omniacademyofbeauty.co.uk/apprenticeships