Hi, Anthony from MIG.  It might surprise many, that in a number of states, across the country, a qualification at the trade level is not something that’s required to own or operate a salon or barbershop.  As an industry, we’re often justifiably concerned with the damage that can be caused by dodgy operators that may have only just completed enough training to be dangerous. And while we might lament the lack of regulation that allows those without qualification to operate within the industry, a closer examination of the people who don’t have formal qualifications paints a slightly different story.

While the reasons are wide varied, the family nature of hairdressing means that often skills are passed down or developed on the job without the need for formal qualification. And in addition to this, the international and cosmopolitan nature of our trade means that many of our hairdresses don’t hold qualifications that are Australian but hold qualifications from Europe, Asia, or even the Americas. So does it matter?  In real terms, I suppose the answer is probably not. You can forge a career without an Australian certificate. But I think the benefits of holding that piece of paper are quite significant.  At a basic level, many salons will require you to have that qualification, just from a public liability or a business insurance perspective. And critically, qualifications are required in order to train apprentices. So without a Certificate III in Hairdressing, you may not be able to meet the government requirements in relation to supervision and mentoring of apprentices. So this can effectively restrict the access to government funding that’s available for bringing on staff and training. In addition, I suppose the strength and the esteem that the Australian qualification is held in can open lots of doors, particularly when you’re looking at traveling overseas. Finally, career progression can be impacted. A lack of a qualification, means particularly in the education and training field, that it’s more difficult for you to to enter and become part of that system.

So what’s the plan?  If you or any of your colleagues are in that position, there’s a number of things you can do. Thankfully, it doesn’t mean going back to school and undertaking extensive training and assessment because it’s something that you’re doing every single day in your working life. The answer lies in seeking recognition for your skills and making sure that skills that you have match the skills in the training package.  Your local training provider, like ourselves, will call that a recognition process, or an RPL process. And whilst RPL can appear daunting at first, when you break it down, it’s basically just evidence gathering. A great RPL process gathers evidence in the most painless way possible and includes a number of really important elements. Initially, what we do is a self assessment. This helps the applicant or candidate understand what’s in the qualification, and then how your skills match up with that. Secondly, what we do is we have a competency conversation where we really sit down and we talk about all the knowledge that you might have gained over your career, and how that matches the training package. And whilst you know, it may not cover all the technical words that are in the training packages, it really shows that you know, your craft. Thirdly, practical observation, observing you in the salon, observing you in the barber shop, in your own natural environment, so that we can make sure that the skills match those practical skills required. Then we ask for endorsement, we talk to the people that that you work with, we talk to your managers, supervisors, and other references, and we make sure that we can get a gauge of where you sit from a career perspective.

Sounds easy. Yeah, right. I mean, the good news is, is that whilst it seems daunting, that’s really part of our day job. So smoothing the way, gathering all the evidence that I talked about, can be really done in a way that’s really quite painless and not quite as bad as potentially what you might think.  From a financial perspective, many of the local governments also have funding that’s available for recognition of prior learning. Gaining qualification for people with great skill is something that many governments are really keen to support.  Particularly in southeast Queensland there is funding available for the Trade Skills Assessment Gap which is able to fund both the RPL process and then also to fund any gap training that might happen after that.  At MIG we work with many household names in hairdressing looking to build their team’s capacity and their technical skills and RPL is just one of those ways that we can help many of the stylists that work in salon to really gain formal recognition for the skills and knowledge that they already hold.  If you’d like to talk to about how we can help with RPL and other training services it would be great to connect.  Give us a call.