On day 3 of National Apprenticeship Week 2020, we have a conversation with Darciann Fleary, an apprentice based at the Francesco Group salon located in the beautiful village of Eccleshall, Staffordshire.
Like many learners today, the standard education system was a challenge for Darciann. Knowing she struggled in the school environment, the Francesco Group’s Education team decided the best way to support her was to begin her hairdressing career on the Pre-Apprenticeship programme. This individual evaluation of a learner’s situation isn’t unique to Darciann; this is standard practice at the Francesco Group, assessing the needs of the learner and having their best interests at the heart of what they do.
The Pre-Apprenticeship Programme is unique to Francesco Group; it develops learners to achieve Level 1 qualifications in Hair and Beauty skills, work experience and employability skills. Darciann thrived in this environment and began her work experience at the Francesco Group Eccleshall salon; she impressed the team immensely and was shortly thereafter employed as a full-time Apprentice.
Darciann has embraced her role and made it through to the finals of Francesco Group’s Trainee of the Year competition (TOTY) where up-and-coming talent is celebrated. Students who make it through to the TOTY finals compete at different levels to create a look that reflects trends on the salon floor and wider industry looks.
Gemma Hart, head of Francesco Group Education shared, “Darciann has had to overcome numerous personal circumstances, but throughout them all, her passion for hairdressing remained. After struggling in the school environment, the more academic elements of the Apprenticeship course were difficult for Darciann. We developed ways to support her and create a learning environment which allowed her to flourish. We are so pleased with her progress.”
Darciann shared that it’s been a lifelong desire to be a hairdresser, “I’ve wanted to be a hairdresser since I was young, I’ve always loved it and it’s been a part of my life since I was about 10.” She has enjoyed her apprenticeship, especially meeting new people and taking on new clients, in addition to the opportunity to gain new skills and continually add to her foundation of knowledge.
When asked why she chose an apprenticeship over taking the college route, Darciann said, “I found school such a hard place to be. I’m such a hands-on person and I like to be hands-on with my education.” This amazing hands-on support has been a key component of the Francesco Group’s model. They are incredibly supportive of their learners throughout the process, as Darciann explains: “They understand that I struggle in theory lessons and struggle in big groups; they gave me methods to use that allow me to get away from stressful situations if they ever get to be too much. Also, they show me new techniques to learn and give me helpful and supportive advice.”
Looking to the future, Darciann sees herself in ten years “travelling the world helping other young people like me, who want to be a hairdresser, but find it hard to go into a college environment.”
You can find out more about Francesco Group’s apprenticeships here
You can also follow the Francesco Group on Instagram: francesco_group