British hairdressing and barbering have never been so valued and adored in the public eye as they are right now. Three months (at least!) away from their salons, barbers and stylists, means that the public has a fresh understanding of the important role you play in the fabric of life. You are a community advocate, a counsellor to so many, a purveyor of self-esteem and confidence. But will all this newfound yearning for all things ‘hairdresser’ translate into more people wanting to join the profession in future?
Certainly, we need that boost: since 2015 there’s been a steady decline in the total number of people working in hair (down to 250,000, according to 2019 National Hair & Beauty Federation statistics), and more worryingly a sharp fall in the number of apprenticeship starts in England – from 11,500 in 2017/18 to just 9,932 in 2018/19.
So what’s been behind the lack of consumer interest in hairdressing as a career? Misconceptions about the profession abound – 51% of people think hairdressing is low-skill, and 32% that it offers little in the way of career progression, according to a poll earlier this year by L’Oreal Professional Products Division (LPPD). And none of you will be surprised to hear that 75% of respondents said they didn’t learn about hairdressing as a career option in school).
But let’s hold that thought about low skills for a moment… On 1st January 2021 the Government’s Immigration Bill is set to replace free movement with EU states with a revised points-based system for workers coming to the UK. Home Secretary Priti Patel has called it a “firmer, fairer and simpler” system, adding: “This historic piece of legislation gives the UK full control of our immigration system for the first time in decades and the power to determine who comes to this country.”
Potential incomers need to have at least 70 points before they can enter the country, with a confirmed job offer and the ability to speak English a requirement. Points are also awarded for things like earning at least £25,600, working a “skilled job”, working in a profession that the UK has a shortage of and having a relevant PhD.
There isn’t actually a definition of what the Government classes as a “low skilled” workers”.
However, since the points-system is based on salary, lower-paid jobs fall into the category of “low skilled”. This puts hairdressing at risk, with average salaries falling below the £25K threshold for skilled labour, meaning the Bill will almost certainly spell an end to the flow of foreign hairdressers into the UK market that some of London salons and bigger national salon chains rely on.
The British Beauty Council is currently campaigning at Government level to re-classify hairdressing as high-skilled, and has teamed up with Creative HEAD to create this Recruitment and Immigration survey where salon owners can have their say. Fill it out now – you can help bring about change!
Hairdressers: click here to take the survey
Barbers: click here to take the survey
Meanwhile, read more about recruitment struggles and how salon owners are dealing with them in the July issue of Creative HEAD, landing in salons week commencing July 6.