Article reproduced from the Scottish School Leaver magazine, Volume 1, Issue 2.
With a major school leaving session looming, this is an important
time for 16 and 17 year olds. They will have to make decisions
which will affect the rest of their lives. Whether to continue with an academic
education, enter higher education or pursue a job or career. If you're going to
leave school and enter the job market, it makes sense to opt for a job in
some area in which you have an interest or which you think you might enjoy.
It makes even more sense to aim for a job which includes training.
Training which leads to a recognised Vocational Qualification (VQ) provides the opportunity to develop skills to higher levels which in turn provides opportunity for promotion and increased earning potential. VQ's have the added advantage of ensuring that you will learn not just the practical or technical skills required for the job but the theory or knowledge which underpins those jobs.
But VQ's are different to the qualifications you undertake at school.
For example, you don't sit exams which you could fail after a long course of study and they're not taught in a classroom. You usually gain them whilst doing jobs in your workplace (although some colleges and training companies deliver courses in simulated workplace conditions).
Vocational Qualifications are awarded by certificating bodies such as SQA
and City & Guilds and are recognised by employers both nationally and internationally. The certificates prove that you perform to minimum standards,
so they can be crucial to a prospective employer who may be deciding between job applicants.
VQ's are available at different levels and have been designed for various levels of experience and responsibility, from beginner to specialist and managerial.
The Skillseekers training initiative, available now to all school leavers in Scotland, has become the main route into hairdressing for young people. Skillseekers assures that you train towards a recognised Vocational Qualification and pays the costs of training, assessment and certification. It
is funded by the regional Local Enterprise Companies (LEC's) and run by colleges and training companies.
Mentor M.A. is widely known for its excellent hairdressing training and
education services and is regarded as the main hairdressing training agency
within the Edinburgh and Lothian region. Over the past 12 years Mentor M.A.
has helped over a thousand young school leavers to embark on a colourful
hairdressing career, many of them now successful junior stylists, qualified hair
designers and salon owners.
Mentor is also heavily involved in arranging work-experience for pupils in their final year at school, giving around 50 pupils each year a taste of life in a hair salon. For those youngsters unable to leave school until December, Mentor M.A. is also able to arrange extended work experience in salons, allowing a true insight into the world of hairdressing (subject to approval by the school).
"Hairdressing continues to be a popular career choice for young fashionable people. It is a young-minded, dynamic and sociable job," says Richard Normand, Training Director for the organisation. "Many years ago it used to be regarded as a last resort as it required no prior qualifications or academic ability. But in more recent years whilst it still demands no entrance qualifications, it has
developed its professionalism, its earning potential, career development and its standing in society. And that's largely due to a higher standard of training and education within the craft itself. There are so many other types of jobs that lead nowhere, but hairdressing is a career full of opportunity. After qualifying you can specialise as a colour or perming technician, get into teaching in a college or private training centre like Mentor M.A., work as a sales or marketing rep. for a product manufacturer, travel the world aboard cruise liners, or become self-employed as a freelance stylist or open your own salon. Or back in the High Street, there will always be a healthy demand for well-trained and talented hairstylists in the labour market. Salons are crying out for them at the moment, offering ever-increasing salaries."
"Through our experience of recruiting trainees and of discussing
opportunities with parents, I find that it's not the size of salon or salary
offered which is the overriding factor in a trainee’s selection of salon. The
salons which successfully attract the cream of prospective juniors are those
which offer the best training and education programmes."
Through its network of some 300 salons, Mentor M.A. can help to arrange a
full-time job for trainees with a fully supported training course. Its courses
all lead to the recognised SQA or City & Guilds Vocational
Qualification. Training can be arranged either at college or entirely in the