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Three salon employers share what you need to ensure that once you have an apprentice, they’ll stay and they’ll flourish.

F&M Hairdressing team Glasgow

Brian MacMillan and the F&M Hairdressing team

Getting them in the door is hard enough, but keeping apprentices is a tough challenge too… and you might need to take a new approach. As part of National Careers Week and Scottish Apprenticeship Week, we’ve teamed up with The Industry – the CIC showcasing the brilliant opportunities for a life in hairdressing – to see what essentials tips this selection of Scottish salon employers are sharing. 

Make them feel supported and part of the (salon) family 

“There is a massive focus on mental health these days, and ensuring your team members are in the right head space and not riddled with anxiety over exams,” explains Philip Bell, creative director at Ishoka, Aberdeen. Philip meets with apprentices individually every Tuesday to discuss how they are doing in their work life, personal life and training programme. A personalised plan is then created for each apprentice that aims to resolve any personal or professional issues that may have been raised. He adds: “Team days out are also a great way to make them feel like part of the family. We love letting apprentices take part in any activities such as photoshoots or stage work at industry events and attending awards ceremonies – this gives your apprentices a great insight into what the future may hold for them.” 

At F&M Hairdressing, co-founder Brian MacMillan makes sure that EVERYONE on the team spends time with the newbies to make them feel at home. “I am a firm believer that apprenticeships are more than just education; it’s about working together to achieve their goals,” he explains. “They are introduced to the wider team and will spend time with each of our senior team members in order to begin to build a relationship and feel settled in.” 

Phillip Bell Ishoka

Phillip Bell mentoring at Ishoka, Aberdeen

Jason and Josh Miller with trainees

Jason and Josh Miller with Charlie Miller graduates

Show them what you have planned… and keep in touch 

Managing continuous communication through briefings, mentorships, and regular meetings is essential to their personal and professional growth and stability, says Jason Miller, managing director at Charlie Miller salons in Edinburgh. “Each trainee follows our ‘Learning Timeline’ which begins in their first week and follows them throughout their career; this gives them and their manager clarity on their progress, sets expectations and ultimately, helps them develop their emotional intelligence.” 

When an apprentice joins F&M Hairdressing, co-founder Brian MacMillan sits down with them to create an individual plan. “This allows us to work at a pace they are comfortable with and ensure they meet their goals in a timely but high standard manner,” he explains. “Once their programme has begun, we check in weekly then hold a quarterly session where we review the journey planner. Communication is vital, and monitoring progress at every opportunity is key.”