Many salon owners struggle to find the perfect therapists for their business, but could taking on apprentices be the answer to the recruitment crisis? When I opened my salon Beauty Lounge in Doncaster 13 years ago, I invested in two apprentices, training them to my standards and paying them a low-cost wage.
For me, the apprentice gamble paid off. Once qualified, I offered them full-time roles and both are still with me today. I believe high-street salons have a responsibility to train the next generation to help reach these much-needed employer standards, but there’s a lot of financial and time cost associated with doing so.
If you have fewer than 50 employees, you and your training provider will each receive a £1,000 government grant for every 16–18-year-old apprentice you take on. This also applies to 19–24-year-old apprentices who have been in care or have a local authority care plan.
This is the Government’s way to persuade more small business owners to take on an apprentice. This grant is definitely a pro because it covers a couple of months’ wages, but it can take a while to get your first payment of £500, so be aware of this. I believe the Government should increase the grant to £2,000 as this would give employers extra funding to improve an apprentice’s CPD knowledge or introduce a new treatment to the salon for them to train in.
I don’t regret taking on apprentices as all of mine have helped the salon to grow. However, there are a few things you should consider before to make sure you have the time and capacity to take on an apprentice.
You must pay them £3.90 per hour, and this reduced wage allows you to offer cheaper trainee treatment prices while they build up their clientele. As an apprentice doesn’t have a full column of clients, they can assist other therapists and nail techs in setting up treatments and cleaning afterwards. This saves time in the diary for other staff members, meaning you can book in an extra client per day.
You can train apprentices in your way of performing treatments so they don’t pick up bad habits, and this will make them ready to work on the salon floor when they leave college. However, be aware that having an apprentice does take you away from other jobs because that person needs to be trained in all the processes within your salon.
They will only be able to do one day training per week with you, so won’t be flexible to assist in treatments on certain days. The Government states that employers and training providers should meet the 20% off-the-job training requirement for apprentices, meaning this could be another working day they aren’t available to assist you. PB
Michelle Brookes is owner of the Beauty Lounge in Doncaster and was a finalist in the Professional Beauty Awards 2019.