Hairdressing apprentices a cut above the rest

Becoming a hairdresser nowadays requires more than just an ability to cut hair. You need to be able to style, you need to be able to colour and you need to be able to communicate.

The importance of that final point is evident straight away when speaking to the employers of hairdressing apprentices Jacqui Dunlop and Shannon McClue.

Jacqui Dunlop works in Ayr at Susanna's Salon.
Jacqui Dunlop works in Ayr at Susanna’s Salon

Susanna Ross owns Susanna’s Salon in Ayr and, when asked what qualities she looks for in a member of staff, she immediately spoke about the need for prospective employees to not be shy.

She said “They need to be able to use their technical ability in the salon but also their confidence. They need to have the gift of the gab because they need to communicate with clients. If you go and have your hair done, there’s nothing worse than somebody not speaking to you.”

It was the first thing Marlene Lamont, owner of Urban Hair in Cumnock, spoke about too.

Shannon McClue works at Urban Hair in Cumnock

Marlene said “I would apprentices really need to have good communication skills, definitely. In saying that, once they start to get confident they become more open. So some come in shy but as they develop their skills they come on.”
Apprentices Jacqui and Shannon both appeared confident when we visited them and saw them working on their clients.
However, Shannon echoed her boss’s thoughts on growing into the role. She said, “Starting my apprenticeship, I was really shy and quite nervous, but after working with the public for quite a while has definitely brought my confidence out.”

Shannon has always wanted to do hairdressing because she is interested in “arty stuff”. Marlene agrees that an artistic talent is also an important quality to have.

“I think you need a wee bit of art in you. A lot of people think ‘I’ll just be a hairdresser’ but it’s not as easy as that. Artistic skills comes in handy.”

Meanwhile, Susanna invited a couple of young hopefuls in on a trial basis to ensure she was getting her ideal candidate when she was thinking about hiring an apprentice. Eventually she chose Jacqui because she is genuinely enthuastic about what she does.

Jacqui said: “Being able to change somebody – the way they look and the way they feel is great. It’s a great feeling.”

Both owners are delighted with the standard of apprentice they have taken on, and both appear committed to taking on more apprentices over the coming years.

Marlene, of Urban Hair said: “My young ones are coming in as apprentices and they’re fabulous, they really are.

“I think if the employer takes the time to teach them properly and doesn’t treat them like people who are just there to wash hair, then they can develop their skills and their personal development. I think apprenticeships are a great idea – I think they’re brilliant.”

To hear more from Jacqui and Shannon, and their employers, watch the videos below.


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