Last weekend, I hopped over to London Excel to attend Professional Beauty 2016, a two-day expo of spa and beauty businesses. It’s one of Europe’s leading events for beauty and spa professionals, attracting over 30,000 visitors and seeing exhibits from over 800 beauty and spa brands.
I was invited to sit on the panel at a talk called “How our company is developing. What we feel Colleges should focus on to meet the ever changing and diverse needs of the Beauty industry?” with other spa industry professionals such as Ceri Silk from Saks Hair & Beauty, and Helena Field from the Mandarin Oriental spa in London, as part of a morning of talks about education within the spa and beauty sector. As usual, it was very helpful and provided a fantastic insight into the challenges of providing relevant and industry-specific skills to budding and developing spa therapists.
So what were the findings from the talk? Well, there was a strong emphasis from the panel that there is a lack of commercial skills being trained in colleges, which is an issue we’ve discussed previously. However, frontline educators are aware of this but haven’t got the funding or the time to deliver those skills. Resources are often stretched thin and demands of employers are growing.
I suggested that there was a shift towards “total wellness” by the larger spa operators and getting the basics right without the need for the peripheral treatments. However, smaller spas and salons are looking for better value for money with the increase in Living Wage. They want more skills and experience for the money, so we’re advising therapists to perfect the core skills first to make sure they have a decent understanding of what’s required in each role, and then bolt on usable job-specific qualifications to add value.
The general consensus was that there is too much in the way of celebrity endorsed trends such as media make-up qualifications which lead people into qualifying with no jobs available to them. It’s important that the education sector train people to do that jobs that are available and that are in demand to make them more employable, and more useful to the spa and beauty sector.
It was an honour to once again help the development of the workforce to meet the demands of the spa and beauty industry and its employers. I hope that our insight into the gaps in skills supply that spa and beauty employers are experiencing will help inform spa and beauty teaching policy in a meaningful way.
Written by Jean Wing Hing