Apprenticeships have long been considered a cornerstone of skill development in hairdressing. The hairdressing industry, known for its creativity and innovation, heavily relies on these apprenticeships to nurture and sustain its workforce.

However, a pressing concern has emerged in recent years: the persistently low completion rates in hairdressing apprenticeships.

Statistics paint a grim picture. The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) reported completion rates for hairdressing apprenticeships hovering at an alarming low of around 40% in recent years. This trend poses challenges to the industry, threatening both the supply of skilled professionals and the sector’s overall reputation.


Several interrelated factors contribute to the low completion rates in hairdressing apprenticeships:

Financial Constraints: Apprenticeships often come with financial struggles, including low wages and the cost of education. Many aspiring hairdressers find it difficult to support themselves financially during their apprenticeship, leading them to abandon their training.

Inadequate Support: A lack of adequate mentoring and guidance can lead to feelings of isolation and discouragement among apprentices. The absence of experienced mentors impacts skill development and can diminish an apprentice’s motivation to continue.

High Workload and Stress: The hairdressing industry demands are well known, and the pressure to perform flawlessly in a fast-paced environment can take a toll on apprentices’ mental and physical well-being.

Changing Career Aspirations: As young adults grow and develop, their career aspirations may evolve. Some apprentices may discover that hairdressing is not aligned with their long-term goals, leading them to drop out.

Perception of the Industry: The perception of hairdressing as a low-skilled or temporary profession can dissuade potential apprentices at the outset.


The low completion rates in hairdressing apprenticeships pose a substantial threat to the industry’s future:

Skills Shortage: With a shrinking pool of qualified professionals, the industry is in the grips of a skills shortage. This scarcity not only affects service quality but also stunts the sector’s potential for growth and creative innovation.

Reputation Damage: The hairdressing industry’s reputation is under threat when a significant portion of apprentices fail to complete their training. This leads to a perception of mediocrity. Partly or underqualified people who continue to work in industry deter consumers from seeking professional hairdressing services.

Lack of Diversity: Low completion rates can exacerbate the lack of diversity in the industry. When a narrow demographic persists due to recruitment challenges, the industry misses out on fresh perspectives and talents.

Stifled Innovation: The world of hairdressing is constantly evolving, demanding innovation and creativity. A shortage of skilled hairdressers could hinder the industry’s ability to adapt to changing trends and technologies.

The potential for withdrawal of government funding: By far the most immediate and greatest threat is the very real possibility that state governments could interpret these low completion rates as a sign that the industry does not value the qualification, and subsequently withdraw funding for apprenticeship programs. Government funding plays a pivotal role in supporting apprenticeships.

These funds assist in providing quality education, mentorship, and training facilities for aspiring hairdressers. However, the link between funding and completion rates could prompt state governments to reconsider their investment if they perceive low completion rates as an indication of the industry’s lack of commitment to apprenticeships.

A withdrawal of funding would exacerbate the already critical skills shortage in the hairdressing industry. A reduced pool of trained professionals would strain the industry’s ability to meet demand, compromising the quality of everything we do. It could inadvertently reinforce the perception that the hairdressing apprenticeship is not a valuable or viable career path.

Which could then dissuade potential candidates from pursuing a career in the field, leading to a further decline. The hairdressing industry contributes significantly to the Australian economy through salon revenues and related services. A shortage of skilled professionals resulting from funding withdrawal could lead to revenue loss and reduced economic growth in the sector.


To mitigate the threat posed by low completion rates in hairdressing apprenticeships, a comprehensive approach is needed:

Improved Support Structures: Creating mentorship programs and providing emotional support can help apprentices navigate the challenges of the industry and their training.

Financial Incentives: Offering competitive wages and financial incentives can make apprenticeships more attractive to the apprentice and employer to alleviate financial stress.

Promoting Industry Value: Emphasizing the artistry, skill, and professionalism of hairdressing can reshape public perceptions and encourage more individuals to pursue the field.

Flexible Training Models: Skills based, holistic and flexible training models that accommodate different learning styles and paces can increase completion rates.

Showcasing Success Stories: Highlighting success stories of apprentices who have completed their training and achieved career success can demonstrate the positive impact of apprenticeships on individuals’ lives and the industry as a whole.

Advocacy and Collaboration: Industry associations such as the Australian Hairdressing Council (AHC) can actively engage with government officials to provide data and communicate the efforts being made to improve completion rates, emphasizing the industry’s commitment to fostering skilled professionals.

The hairdressing industry’s future hinges on addressing the challenge of low completion rates in apprenticeships. By recognizing the factors contributing to this issue and implementing solutions, the industry can safeguard its supply of skilled professionals, maintain a strong reputation, and continue to thrive.

The hypothetical withdrawal of government funding for hairdressing apprenticeships due to low completion rates carries severe consequences for the industry, consumers and the Australian economy. It is crucial for Salons, industry associations, policymakers, and educators to work collaboratively in addressing the challenges that contribute to low completion rates.


HAIR BIZ is the only magazine of its kind which offers a comprehensive look at both the business and image side of the hair industry. It provides salon owners with tools and information to be more successful and knowledgeable when it comes to business skills as well as keeping them informed with trend forecasts, interviews, profiles, news, reviews and product info.