In a small town on the south coast of England resides an intrepid barber, Mike Taylor. Mike has been a barber for 28 years and a salon owner for 24. As a young man, he knew he wanted to either work with animals or be a barber. He had a love for animals and a love for people but saw the route to barbering as being a bit shorter, and a lot more direct. He recognised the career path was clearly marked, and progression and growth were very much attainable. So, he enrolled in courses and began his journey. Many of his mates chose work in trades that have since vanished, so he considers himself lucky to have chosen such a fantastic career.
In an effort to share his experience and expertise with the next generation, Mike started teaching with a local college about 15 years ago. He has since developed his own training academies and has mentored and taught hundreds of individuals. Mike now owns eight different barbershops and almost 90% of his employees have gone through his VTCT courses.
There is heart in what Mike does. He credits his success as a training provider and business owner to a lot of hard work and a lot of passion. He is dedicated to his students and wants to make sure they succeed. Mike works with each student to ensure they are ready to move to a barbershop and that they are employable.
It’s not just about the qualification, Mike ensures that the skills and knowledge that learners need are in place for when they hit the shop floor and start their career. One of his favourite parts of his work is seeing the students succeed. “Once they’ve qualified, and you know that you helped get them to completion, that’s what I really enjoy most.”
When asked if there are challenges with having apprentices in barbershops, he replied; “There’s not a lot for an untrained person to do in a barbershop. In a salon, they can help wash and prep the hair for the cut. That’s not really a thing in the barbershop. It can be a challenge if you don’t have enough for them to do.”
For many young adults, their apprenticeship is their first job. It’s the first time they will earn money outside of their home. Mike credits those parents that are involved in teaching essential life skills like good communication, eye contact, and being clean and orderly as critical to the success of many apprentices.
Mike shares some great advice for someone considering an apprenticeship so they can be the most beneficial team member for their employers. “Learn to have a great work ethic. Try to anticipate what the person needs before they ask you. Initiative is a good thing in a barbershop. Be prepared for it to be challenging, both mentally and physically. It’s different from sitting in class and there’s an increased pace. If you don’t already know, learn how to make a cup of tea or do a load of washing. If you are always on the lookout for things to do, and willing to jump in, you can become invaluable to your shop.”