Published on Sunday, October 8, 2017

Hairdressing Apprenticeships: first step towards rewarding long term careers

Feminist and equal opportunities in work advocate Jenni Murray penned an article in the Daily Mail over the summer, alerting the nation to the fact that the hairdressing profession is in crisis mainly due to the lack of young people choosing to enter the sector. The article offered several success stories about salon owners and creative directors earning decent wages and enjoying good standards of living thanks to a career in hairdressing.  However choosing this profession still carries negative connotations it seems, despite as Murray comments, being “well-paid, skilled and recession-proof”.

Lucrative careers

The article went on to highlight the challenge salon owners are experiencing in recruiting apprentices. One of the reasons for this are outdated attitudes towards the industry. Professionals speak of interesting and stimulating, often lucrative careers but still there is snobbery surrounding choosing hairdressing as a vocation. This snobbery is unfounded and based on general ignorance about how far the profession has come both in terms of quality standards, economic contribution and long term career opportunities.

Twice British Hairdresser of the Year, and owner of award winning salons across the North West, Andrew Collinge is an inspiring example of the level of success a career in hairdressing can bring. He is quick to set the record straight when it comes to the challenges and respectability of working in the industry:

“Hairdressing is a demanding and competitive sector to work in. To really succeed and earn good money, you need drive, ambition and high levels of self-motivation. You also need to develop top quality professional skills, and keep them regularly updated. In return, hairdressing promises a rewarding and admirable career path with many benefits and exciting opportunities. An Apprenticeship is the perfect way to start training for a successful career in the industry.”

Hairdressing Industry in Liverpool City Region

Melanie Dodd, strategy manager of LCR Apprenticeships Hub, points to the importance of the sector regionally:

“In Liverpool City Region, the hairdressing industry is thriving, generating income for the local economy and providing significant employment opportunities”.

Recent research commissioned by the Merseyside Hairdressing Forum suggests that

  • There are approximately 1250 salons/barbers in Liverpool City Region
  • The value of the LCR hairdressing/barbering economy is estimated to be as high as £126 million
  • Approximately 7000 people are employed in the local hairdressing/barbering industry


Hairdressing is a demanding profession. A successful stylist needs to have a portfolio of skills including creativity and technical competence, precision and attention to detail, excellent customer service and interpersonal skills, literacy and numeracy competence, medical awareness, and sales/entrepreneurship skills.

Alison Gibson, chair of Merseyside Hairdressing Forum, underlines the importance of industry standard training:

“Recognised training such as an Apprenticeship is vital to achieve the level of professional skills needed to have a successful career in hairdressing, and reap the benefits”.

The benefits a qualified hairdresser or barber can expect to receive are:

  • An exciting, dynamic and varied career
  • A choice of working roles and environments: salons, cruise ships, film/TV, fashion and photography industries, teaching
  • Good earning potential of up to an average of about £40,000 as a salon director
  • Self-employment potential – working round family or study commitments
  • Low chance of remaining unemployed for long

Merseyside Hairdressing Forum

Merseyside Hairdressing Forum (MHF) is a collaboration of Liverpool City Region training centres and colleges on Merseyside who offer Apprenticeships and other professional training courses for the hair and beauty sector. Over the past 5 years, MHF Helped over 6500 individuals get qualified in the hair and beauty sector and helped over 1000 go into self-employment in the industry.

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