The Crucial Role of In-Salon Mentors for Hairdressing Apprentices

The Crucial Role of In-Salon Mentors for Hairdressing Apprentices

Whether it is the salon owner, manager or a senior stylist who is the key person, an insalon mentor serves as the guiding force in an apprentice’s journey towards becoming a skilled and accomplished hairdresser.

They bring a wealth of practical experience, expertise, and a profound understanding of the highs and lows that can’t be learned from formal education or online.

The in-salon mentor has a critical role to play in 3 key ways:

1. Skills Development

The apprentice skills development does not happen without a mentor. Skills are grown by:

Skill Transfer: An experienced mentor is like a living encyclopaedia of hairdressing. They share their insights into cutting, colouring, styling, and all the skills accumulated over years in the trade. This practical knowledge is priceless for apprentices as they embark on their learning journey.

Real-World Wisdom: Beyond technical know-how, mentors provide essential realworld insights. They teach apprentices about the etiquette and conduct expected in a salon, effective time management, and how to navigate the challenges and triumphs of the industry. This wisdom is crucial for a successful and sustainable career.

Instant Feedback: One of the most significant advantages of an in-salon mentor is the ability to offer instant feedback. They can spot errors or areas that need improvement and provide immediate guidance, helping apprentices grow rapidly and effectively in a way that is supported.

Building Confidence: Learning the craft can be a daunting experience, but with the support and encouragement of a mentor, apprentices can build their confidence. The mentor’s approval and trust serve as powerful motivators on the path to confidence and enjoyment.

Client Interaction: Successful hairdressing is not only about cutting and colour application; it’s also about effective client interaction. Working with and shadowing an in-salon mentor imparts essential communication skills, helping apprentices understand and fulfil clients’ unique needs and expectations.

Networking Opportunities: The mentor serves as a gateway to the wonderful world of hairdressing. Apprentices get to interact with other professionals in the industry, opening doors for future collaborations, job opportunities, and personal growth.

2. Relationship Building

The mentor-apprentice relationship in a salon is akin to the passing of a torch. It’s a partnership based on trust, respect, and mutual growth. Here’s why this relationship is invaluable:

One-on-One Guidance : A mentor dedicates their time and attention to the apprentice. This one-on-one guidance accelerates the learning process, allowing apprentices to ask questions, seek clarification, and receive tailored instruction.

Customised Learning: Every apprentice is unique, and a skilled mentor can customize the learning experience to suit the apprentice’s strengths and weaknesses. This adaptability ensures that the apprentice gets the most out of their education and training.

Professional Bond: The mentor-apprentice relationship goes beyond just skill transfer. It’s a professional bond where the mentor imparts not only technical expertise but also the ethics, values, and the essence of being a hairdresser.

Inspiration and Motivation: Mentors are often a source of inspiration for apprentices. Their journey, achievements, and passion for the craft can be a motivating force that drives apprentices to excel and see a life for themselves in Hair.

3. Career Impact

The mentor-apprentice dynamic profoundly influences an apprentice’s career. Here’s how:

Uptake of Skills: With the continuous guidance and mentorship, apprentices have the opportunity to master the art of hairdressing more rapidly and comprehensively. They learn not just what works but also the subtleties that make a haircut or colour truly exceptional.

Industry Relevance: A mentor’s real-world experience ensures that apprentices are well prepared to enter the competitive hairdressing industry. They learn the latest techniques, trends, and industry standards, making them relevant and sought-after professionals.

Self-Assurance: As apprentices gain proficiency under the mentor’s watchful eye, their self-assurance grows. This newfound confidence is essential for success in the salon and in building a loyal clientele.

Opportunities: The mentor introduces apprentices to a network of industry professionals, opening up opportunities for collaboration and career advancement. These connections can prove invaluable in the long run.

In the world of hairdressing, an in-salon mentor is not just a supervisor; they are the architects of a career. The mentor-apprentice relationship is the heart and soul of the apprenticeship journey. With their wealth of knowledge, real-world wisdom, and nurturing guidance, mentors pave the way for apprentices to master the art of hairdressing, develop their unique style, and thrive.

As an RTO assisting salons with the formal qualification and skills training, we see it daily and can hands down say that the significance of an in-salon mentor cannot be overstated; they are the key to unlocking an apprentice’s potential, instilling the skills and confidence needed to not only cut, colour, and style hair but to also create a truly transformative experience for clients.

In a busy salon, committing the time to mentor and grow your salon team can be difficult but hairdressing has a wonderful enduring tradition of care and mentoring the next generation that continues to shape the future of hairdressing.

Anthony Gray is a Director of MIG Training. MIG is the trusted apprenticeship education partner for many of the leading salons and barbershops in QLD. Anthony is the Education and Training Director for the Australian Hairdressing Council (AHC).


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.

Hairbiz Year 17 Issue 6 Out Now

Hairbiz Year 17 Issue 6 Out Now

Check out this month’s HairBiz Magazine. Great articles by our very own Anthony Gray include “David Murry Salon – A Santuary for Creativity” on page 46 and “The Crucial Role of In-Salon Mentors for Hairdressing Apprentices” on page 78.

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.

David Murry Salon – A SANCTUARY FOR Creativity

David Murry Salon – A SANCTUARY FOR Creativity

Located in the heart of South Brisbane, David Murry Salon is a sanctuary for creativity. David and his team have built a reputation of excellence that spans 13 years and he generously agreed to give us an insight into the DMS journey.

David, tell us a little about your salon. What made you take the plunge?

Taking the plunge into salon ownership was a natural progression, having been raised in a family of small business owners.

The conversations around the challenges of running a small business amongst my large family of 6 had an impact. I didn’t realise until later in life how impactful those conversations would be.

Purchasing a salon was a goal I wanted to achieve by age 30, and of course like many other people I was naive to the reality of how much hard work goes into running a business. I thought I could do it better.

Little did I know what it would involve, and I found myself having to learn very quickly. Fortunately, asking for help was something I was comfortable with, and I sought the advice of many influential people in my life, including many clients and of course my partner Lloyd.

My late father was very black and white and the best advice he gave me was “as long as you have more money coming in than going out, you’ll be able to pay people to do the things you do not know how to do”. It’s a simple statement but often forgotten.

The salon opened on the 30 June 2013. The salon was created because at that time there were many large super salons trying to deliver a bougie boutique experience in pumping spaces and I wanted to cinch that into a smaller more personal environment. The remaining history of DMS is still being written.

What is the make up of your team?

Our team has expanded and contracted numerous times over the past 13 years, but we generally have 3 seniors and 3 assistants. A couple of years ago I transitioned my role into reception and administration for the salon.

The running of the business was something I enjoyed, and it required more of my attention, and I found trying to juggle both roles very challenging. Business coach and industry legend Antony Whitaker once said to me at a seminar, “the definition of a successful small business is to make oneself redundant”.

I have never forgotten this and was so proud to have grown my business to a level where this was a possibility for me. Stepping off the floor was a huge risk, but it worked. Moving into this role also created opportunities for my team to step up into salon management and education roles which they did with commitment.

We have found 3 seniors and 3 assistants to be the sweet spot not only from a financial point of view but also from a client experience point of view. Recently we’ve decided to go back to a full team four-day work week from Wednesday through to Saturday.

Staff have opted for this kind of roster to have three consecutive days off a week, allowing them to really rest so they can pump it out in four consecutive days.

What is the DMS Philosophy?

The philosophy of DMS is very simple and it is our statement of belief:

Create an experience where guests spend with a heart, not their head. Create a connection and be memorable in a positive way.

We truly believe that if a client is happy with their experience, you will create loyal longterm client. It’s not just about being happy with their hair.

When you have a hairdresser in your team that gives only good hair, they won’t create a loyal long-term client. When you have a hairdresser in your team that makes a client happy with their hair but also with their experience, you’ve got the winning combination.

How do you attract and retain great people?

Like everyone now, recruitment is really challenging at the moment. I have a group of employees that are long-term and a group of employees that come and go. The long-term staff, one of which we’ve purchased a second salon with, have had good communication with me.

We’ve had conversations over the years that have been difficult and have required us both to reflect on our behaviour and actions and we’ve respectfully worked our way through differences.

A growing trend amongst employees is to leave when they come up against a challenge in the workplace but the art of working through problems within a workplace will benefit you greatly and turn into far more than you realise.

My focus is to provide a safe, respectful and nurturing workspace with opportunities for staff to achieve attractive financial remuneration for their efforts and of course have fun together.”

The role education plays and how important is it to your business?

Well, we wouldn’t have a business without education. In January every year, we have a huge focus on planning the education for the year ahead.

How you train and educate your team?

From July 2023 onwards, we are trying something very different with education. We are facilitating one paid professional development day a month for our assistants, and this will either be with one of our senior staff or a guest artist.

This dedicated day will not only strengthen the skill set of our assistants but help them to grow closer as a unit. Of course, throughout the week, we will take advantage of every opportunity when we are not with a client.

When an apprentice has a training session a senior is marked out to be with them, no one goes it alone.

What is your education approach to apprentices?

Assistants and emerging stylists are the secret sauce of our business. Without them the recipe would be underwhelming. The biggest thing we do for our apprentices is implement a commission structure.

They, like seniors, need to feel like they’re working toward something. They need to feel like at the end of the week when they’ve busted their arse to help make the salon deliver a great experience, they have a little bit of cream at the end of the week.

The hardest thing for me as a salon owner is allowing an apprentice to do a service that I know is a stretch. They must be given the opportunity to mess it up and to then have a conversation as a result of that experience which leaves them feeling empowered, not deflated.

Who are your education partners and how do those partnerships work for you?

Obviously working with a training organisation like “MIG Training” has been hugely helpful., especially last year, where we fully embraced every form of education, e.g., being at the college, in the salon, via Zoom and the one day workshop education program. This filled almost 3/4 of our education plans for 2023.

Over the last couple of years, we’ve really tapped into the incredible talents of Belinda Keely and have welcomed her on numerous occasions and have utilised her in salon Zoom education.

I love everything about Belinda‘s brand and her style of teaching. We also rely on the incredibly talented senior staff which we have in salon.



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.



Nestled in the heart of Brisbane’s inner west, Urban Chic isn’t just a salon; it’s an embodiment of a dream, with a whole lot of style thrown in for good measure. For the past 18 years, Urban Chic has been redefining hair care, styling, and empowerment.

MIG has had the pleasure of supporting owner and founder Amy Gaudie with the training of her team, and we have been lucky enough to have had front row seats to witness the journey of this thriving salon. Watching the passion, innovation, and camaraderie that have fuelled its success first-hand.

A Journey of Passion and Growth

“I was 22 years old and naive to be honest, and thought I could take on the world,” reflects Amy, whose dedication is evident in every facet of Urban Chic. “What a rollercoaster it has been,”, reminiscing about the day she decided to venture into the world of an entrepreneur and salon owner.

With an entrepreneurial spirit and a fierce determination, Amy set out to create a space where people not only received incredible hair care but also felt empowered. Opening its doors in 2005, Urban Chic began as a humble dream. The sole goal was to provide hair services that resonated with clients. Over the years, the salon has evolved, not only offering top-notch hair transformations but also cultivating a salon culture that resonates with clients and stylists alike.

Behind the Scenes of Urban Chic

Urban Chic’s team is a carefully curated blend of talents, each contributing to the salon’s vibrant atmosphere. The roster includes Amy, the award-winning visionary owner herself, Manager/Master Stylist, Annie, Master Stylist, Sass, Senior Stylist, Tilly, Apprentice Ynez and even a furry friend – the Salon Puppy, Winny. This team’s harmony and camaraderie play a pivotal role in fostering the salon’s distinctive style and feel.

At the heart of Urban Chic’s philosophy lies the belief in the power of education. “Education is the key to our future,” Amy emphasises. This philosophy extends to both hair styling excellence and a commitment to empowering each other. With an unwavering belief in providing the Urban Chic team “endless opportunities to grow”, Urban Chic doesn’t just create beautiful hair; it creates opportunities for growth and learning for its team.

Creating a Legacy Through Education

A salon’s true mark of excellence often lies in its ability to attract and retain exceptional staff. “Attracting and retaining great staff is really hard right about now,” Amy acknowledges. Yet, Urban Chic excels in this department by fostering an environment of constant learning, growth, and mutual support. The salon’s secret sauce lies in its unwavering commitment to supporting and empowering one another.

But what truly sets Urban Chic apart is its dedication to education. “Education is everything for a business,” Amy asserts. With clients constantly seeking trendsetting colour and styling, the team stays ahead through continuous learning. From winning competitions in both the creative and business space to creating a salon culture that resonates with the community, Urban Chic has become a beacon of excellence.

A Symphony of Education and Empowerment

The salon’s education approach is unique and effective. The owner believes in harnessing industry experts to impart knowledge. Featured guest artists frequently grace the salon, providing diverse insights and techniques. For Urban Chic, education isn’t a one-size-fits-all concept. Instead, it’s a collection of tools and tricks that empower stylists to excel in any situation. The education approach is nimble, current and tailored to the individual.

This commitment to education extends particularly to apprentices and emerging stylists, who are considered the foundation of the industry. “I take Apprentices and Emerging Stylists very seriously,” Amy notes. By nurturing and guiding these budding talents, Urban Chic ensures the longevity and quality of the hairdressing profession.

Powerful Partnerships for Lasting Impact

Behind Urban Chic’s education success are strong partnerships. One such vital collaborator is L’Oréal, an education partner that provides unwavering support. “Every single day, I have them on speed dial,” Amy smiles. L’Oréal’s partnership elevates Urban Chic’s hair care prowess, empowering the team to deliver exceptional transformations.

Amazing Hair is another key partner, providing all the long hair needs for clients, editorial work, and the team itself. And when it comes to styling, GHD’s products enable Urban Chic to craft trendsetting looks that captivate.

A Legacy of Empowerment and Beauty

As Urban Chic celebrates its 18th year, it’s not just about hair – it’s about the remarkable journey, the education-driven philosophy, and the community of empowered women it has fostered. Urban Chic is a testament to the resilience of dreams and the power of education. With the heart of a dreamer and the skills of an industry expert at the top of her game, Amy continues to shape Urban Chic into a haven of beauty, empowerment, and education, leaving an indelible mark on our industry and beyond.



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.

The Alarming Threat of Low Apprenticeship Completion Rates – Article from Hairbiz Year 17 Issue 5

The Alarming Threat of Low Apprenticeship Completion Rates – Article from Hairbiz Year 17 Issue 5

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.