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MIG Training Offers Hair Education to Disadvantaged Teens

Solving multiple problems at once, Matters in Gray (MIG) Training is addressing the decline in apprentice completion rates and helping those who require a pathway and opportunity by thinking outside the box. The registered training organisation (RTO) is educating unemployed and disadvantaged youths in hair and giving them a professional purpose.

The institution has just graduated its third intake of newly skilled Salon Assistants in partnership with the YMCA and Skilling Queenslanders for Work (SQW) program, which provides skills development, training and job opportunities to unemployed, disengaged or disadvantaged Queenslanders. This is funded by the Queensland Government and uses targeted skills and education programs to improve industries and individual lives.

The students complete a Certificate II in Salon Assistant, which gives them work ready qualifications to immediately work in a salon and commence a hairdressing apprenticeship. Five of seven graduates in the recent intake have already gained salon employment, and six of nine graduates from the first half of the year are also thriving in salons.

“These students come from a position of disadvantage, so to achieve those outcomes is exceptional,” said MIG Training managing director Anthony Gray.

“People in the local community have a real opportunity to enter the hairdressing industry with this stepping-stone program to employment. We see first-hand how specific skill development, staff support and hands-on work experience positively impacts not only the participants, but also their families and the wider community,” continued Hannah Nixon, acting team leader for YMCA’s SQW program.

The partnership between MIG and the YMCA has been flourishing for five years, built off their partnership in designing a trade training centre and pioneering the Certificate II in Salon Assistant program. This alliance has grown over five years to include hairdressing and retail programs across four campus locations. The group’s training educators, such as Mandy Goodyear and Krystal-Lee White, claim to witness transformations in the students beyond just their skills, when given a dynamic, creative outlet and legitimate career path.

“I’ve observed massive changes, not only to skills, but also confidence, independence and work ethic,” Krystal-Lee said. “Most of our students come from diverse backgrounds with a range of different circumstances and barriers. Throughout the SQW program, you watch them transition from where they were to where they never thought they could be. This is through the combined effort of the YMCA and MIG Training teams, to take the student back to basics and not just teach skills, but also teach self worth.”

The program runs for sixteen weeks and includes hairdressing two days a week in a simulated salon whilst completing units of assessment in the Certificate II Salon Assistant qualification. It also includes one day a week in employability skills and one to two days weekly work experience in a hair salon after important salon and retail training to elevate students to this level.

“Over the course, you see the students go from tense, no belief in themselves and quite introverted, to relaxed, chatty and more confident,” Mandy said. “Some of the students have always wanted to be hairdressers or barbers, but have not had the opportunity or the confidence to pursue it. Some of the students did not ever think about hairdressing as a vocation, but now believe it could be the career for them.”

“We are not just in the hair business, we are in the people business, and we help the students to succeed no matter the obstacle,” Krystal-Lee continued. “Employers would look the other way if these young people applied for an apprenticeship before this program. Now salon owners are calling us asking when our next graduates will be ready. Why? Because they are hungry! They want to be challenged and moulded and worked because they know what struggle is and that opportunity doesn’t come easy. They hold on with both hands and work hard in exchange for support, a salon family and continuing education.”

Salon owners are looking for apprentices in our current business climate, and MIG delivers a group of young, motivated and passionate new students ready to use their training and tackle what the salon world poses to them. It’s the ideal win-win, and something we should all be thanking MIG for.

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