New Campus Countdown: Focus on Hair, Beauty, Complementary Therapies and Make-Up Artistry

We are one month closer to the opening of our new campus in Kilmarnock. As we continue our countdown it’s time to turn the spotlight on another curriculum area.

We caught up with Angela Sheridan Head of Learning and Skills – Hair, Beauty, Complementary Therapies and Make-up Artistry.

Tell us about the Hair, Beauty, Complementary Therapies and Make-Up Artistry Department at Ayrshire College.


Hairdressing and Beauty Therapy runs at Kilmarnock, Kilwinning and Ayr Campuses, Complementary Therapy at Kilmarnock and Kilwinning and Make-up Artistry at Ayr and Kilwinning.

We deliver a range of full-time courses for students. Part-time courses are available for Hairdressing Modern Apprentices. Modern Apprentices can choose to be assessed in the workplace or attend college one day per week. In addition we have a range of short evening courses for those who would prefer to study part-time in the evening.

Our curriculum work closely with the Business Development Team and employers, to devise bespoke courses to meet business needs. The main aim of our curriculum design is to provide meaningful learning which incorporates real live briefs that ensure progression and preparation for industry, whilst developing transferable skills.

Our students are encouraged to take part in activities to develop not only practical skills and confidence, but to open their eyes to the wider environment. This in turn builds on skills for learning, life and work and provides invaluable experiences.

Our students take part in many competitions and have won many awards. These competitions develop confident individuals and recognise excellence in learning.

Most of our courses are recognised by HABIA (Hair and Beauty Industry Authority). These qualifications are recognised internationally and past students have secured employment abroad in places as far as Dubia and Australia. It’s exciting for our students to experience such great opportunities.

Working in a diverse and ever evolving industry, which is continuously launching new products and techniques, is both rewarding and challenging.

What initiatives are your team involved with?

Our area is involved in many vocational and ethical initiatives. We recently launched our “Man in the Mirror” campaign which highlights and addresses gender imbalance and stereotyping in our area. An initial event provided taster treatments and encouraged feedback on experiences and interest, pertaining to the industry and our courses. The campaign was launched on International Men’s day at Ayr Campus and was a huge success.


It is important that we are producing highly skilled and creative individuals who have the ability to promote their skills successfully. We work closely with many professional product houses to develop retailing skills and our commercial environments ensure that our students have many opportunities to develop promotional, practical and time management skills to meet industry requirements.

How important are Modern Apprentices and work-placements to the department?

Modern Apprentices are very important to the department. They help the College support employers across Ayrshire and beyond. It’s good for full-time students to see Modern Apprentices in college at the same time as them – it inspires them to secure employment for themselves.

Work-placement opportunities for full-time students are invaluable and contribute immensely to the development of their skills and knowledge. The partnership is a two-way process with our employers appreciating the benefits of having a willing student to assist with workplace tasks.


What do you think makes the department so successful?

The commitment of staff contributes greatly to the overall success of the department. All of our lecturers have vast industry experience and maintain strong links within industry, which helps students with their learning and work placements.

Our staff also work well with colleagues from other departments such as Student Services, Funding and Inclusive Learning to ensure students are supported.

What skills are you looking for in your students?

We look for good employability skills and welcome individuals who are creative, hard working, self-motivated, self-disciplined, good communicators, team players and enjoy working with people. To be successful students must continually practise to perfect their time-management, practical skills and promotional skills.


The main challenge we face is encouraging young adults at 16/17 years old to think about what sort of career they want to have, and ensure that once they have made this important decision they are able to stick with it for four years during their studies.

We work tirelessly with students so it is very rewarding for lecturers to see students evolve and develop throughout their time at College. They go from being uncertain about what to do, undertake intensive training and at the end of their college journey are industry ready.

What options are open to Hair, Beauty, Complementary Therapies and Make-Up Artistry students once they have finished their courses?

We offer courses at different levels, meaning a progression route is open to all students. Full-time students have an opportunity to progress to the next level and graduating students can progress to employment, self-employment or degree courses.

Apprentices are either work-based or attend college on a day release basis to complete their qualification. The majority of our hairdressing apprentices secure permanent employment after they qualify. Many transferable skills which can allow them to branch off into different career routes.


How important is working with local employers to the department?

Local employers are very important as they support our work experience programme. Each year, approximately 100 full-time students take part in a block of work experience. We also help local employers to recruit by providing college salon spaces for group interviewing and skill testing days. Employers are able observe groups of students who fit their job description and students benefit from the process and the feedback they receive. It has taken years to build and consolidate these partnerships which provide real benefits to students, the College and the employer.

What can students expect from the Hair, Beauty and Complementary Therapies department at the new campus?

Students can expect modern salons reflecting industry standards, with state of the art equipment and professional product ranges. It will offer students a great chance to experience a realistic vision of their future career. In addition our commercial salon will provide our graduating students with the opportunity of an internship in an environment which replicates a high street salon.

What does the future hold for the Hair, Beauty, Complementary Therapies and Make-up Artistry department at Ayrshire College?

We will continue our great work with local employers and as a team use our skills to help propel our students into a range of careers. We will keep up-to-date with industry advancements to ensure our learners are well prepared for our ever evolving industry.
Overall, we will continue to strive to provide a seven star service to students, staff and local employers across Ayrshire and contribute to the wellbeing of our communities.


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