The state of the hairdressing industry and particularly its education platforms has been put in the spotlight, with an enlightening article on the Sydney Morning Herald talking to a number of industry leaders to lay bare its flaws.

The article points to government-funded education programs, that are expensive to fund and expensive for students, but leave those students as “unemployable” when they emerge from their course. These industry leaders claim that about two-thirds of the 131 hairdressing courses offered nationally should be disbanded.

The industry leaders interviewed, including Maureen Harding, national president of the Hair and Beauty Australia Industry Association (HABA), Sandra Campitelli, chief executive of the Hairdressing and Beauty Industry Association (HBIA) and Sandy Chong, chief executive of the Australian Hairdressing Council (AHC), pointed the blame at a number of areas. First, the government for funding an overflow of courses, as well as the courses, for rushing students through without the necessary skills, and lastly, at the system itself, for inherently flawed features that allow it to be manipulated.

For example, statistics shows that 74,000 hairdressing qualifications were commenced between 2009 and 2013, while the industry employs 55,000 people, showing a great disparity between supply and demand for education. Because of this, students are spending thousands of dollars on an education – even with state government subsidies – but are unable to find work once their studies are completed.

Education expert and Monash University academic Bob Birrell pinned the issue down to the federal government’s decision to deregulate the training sector in the mid-2000s, removing the requirement for hairdressers to serve an apprenticeship. So while students could now fast-track their education, undertaking a Certificate Three or Four in six months, those same students enter the hairdressing job market with no real-world experience, and salons are noticing the lack of skill.

“You have these people that cannot do things like colouring hair,” Sandra told the Sydney Morning Herald. “Salons say to me, ‘I don’t know why this person was signed off; they are never going to get a job’.”

Whatever your perspective – this article and the input of respected industry figures – show that there is communication, action and change required to fix and fortify the hairdressing job market – for the sake of students and salons.

Weigh in – do you think that the hairdressing education sector and job market is flawed? If so, how would you like to see it fixed?