What’s happening to our beauty graduates?

I recently followed up on beauty graduates and the common denominator for success was not skill or talent, but not needing to support yourself the first year in the salon---due to some other source of income. The group of graduates needing to eek out even minimal living conditions is home or leaving the field. This awareness has transformed me into a beauty school advocate.  

You might be thinking right about now, “This is the way it’s always been, you go to school, starve for a year and then if you are tough and aggressive enough, you make it.” Another train of thought is, “All careers are like this, medical assisting, real estate, even technology.”

OK, but does it have to be this way?

We all know what students need to do when they first get to the salon. Why can’t we have graduation skills equal salon entry skills? What if salons and schools got together and established learning priorities in order to succeed in the salon that first year. If a new hire makes it past that critical first year, chances they will stick around are greater. They also have a better chance of paying back a $20,000 dollar student loan.
Here’s my point: I believe most schools do a fine job in training students. I think the number of schools that stop at preparing students for a State Board exam are fighting a losing battle-- they will not be around.

The issue is not education or poor schools. The beauty business is one of learning by repetition. I have a great mentor who says, “It takes one-thousand haircuts to understand haircutting.” Our beauty schools cannot duplicate the salon experience basically because there is not enough repetition of the skills. Some students graduate without ever doing bleach retouch, a perm, dexterity in blowdrying, etc.

So, I am going out on a limb and to ask, “Is there a way salons and schools could identify the key skills for initial success, not everything a salon professional must know, just zero in on the first months in the salon and make this a final, required test before graduation?  

No? There is no way?
Ok, then to the school: if you want to remain relevant in your market, make friends with the salons. Here’s how I see it: since a school prepares for a salon job, the salon is really your boss. Get to know your boss and make sure you are producing what they need—otherwise, like in any other job, you will be fired.


Carlos Valenzuela: is a consultant, speaker, stylist, bilingual trainer, and author of iiFabulous Salon Success, an interactive online learning guide for schools & new salon professionals. 

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