Colin and his apprentice, Neva, from Medusa Training Academy, tell us how they are building the future with apprenticeships in hairdressing and barbering.
Medusa Training Academy delivers a range of qualifications and apprenticeships in hairdressing and barbering, including creative cutting, barbering and colouring. With countless awards under their belt and an unwavering dedication to educating the learners of tomorrow, we had to ask them to share their experiences with us this National Apprenticeship Week.
Managing director, Colin McAndrew, and his apprentice, Neva, share their secrets to success and detail their journey through the apprenticeship process. Make sure you follow our social media accounts to catch more exciting content from them, including an Instagram Live and Neva walking us through a day in her life.
How did you get started in this industry?
Colin: I have always wanted to be a hairdresser – I blame my sisters! I just loved the salon environment, so I joined a large salon in Edinburgh City Centre as soon as I could.
Where does your passion for education and apprenticeships come from?
Colin: I worked in a really large salon, but I always felt that my own hair education could have been more structured. I think this would have made being a young hairdresser easier. So everything we do within Medusa is to make sure that all our apprentices are as well-equipped as possible.
What do you see as the most challenging and most rewarding parts of working with apprenticeships in hairdressing?
Colin: People’s expectations of what is required and what is involved. Learning is a constant challenge. I make no apologies that it’s a hard skill to learn and master. The most rewarding aspect is seeing the apprentices go on to have a great career within Medusa. A lot of our team are homegrown.
Can you tell us about the awards that your organisation has won?
Colin: We have won awards including Business Director of the Year, Fellowship Salon Group of the Year, Wella Trendvision Winner, Scottish Male Stylist of the Year (multiple times within our group), Scottish Salon Group, Salon design.
There are much more, but it’s important to remind everyone we lose more than we ever win!
What do you credit for your success as a training provider? How do you define success for yourself or your organisation?
Colin: Put simply, we don’t cut corners – no pun intended! Our aim within training is to make sure our learners are truly salon ready, and it’s not just a box-ticking exercise. We also try and show them all of the opportunities available within the hairdressing industry like session work, careers as a colour specialist and more.
If someone was thinking about doing an apprenticeship, what would you say they should absolutely take into consideration before starting?
Colin: I’d say look for the very best salon or provider you can find. It’s really hard work but it’s so true that hairdressers are one of the happiest professions. Work hard and you will reap the rewards!
Which qualification are you doing? How long have you been on-programme?
Neva: I am doing the SVQ Level. I have been doing this since April last year, as I started it after completing my level 2.
Describe your experience of the apprenticeship? What does a typical day look like?
Neva: My day is very varied! Once a week, we come out of the salon for the entire day to style models. My day to day includes looking after the salon, clients and the team and preparing clients for any of the services they are having. When I can, I’ll look at what the team are doing with clients. This gives me a great understanding about what I should be aiming to do with my own clients.
What inspired you to choose this career path and what do you plan to do after completing?
Neva: I have always wanted to be a hairdresser! My mum is also a hairdresser, so I’m following in her footsteps. After I’ve finished my apprenticeship, I want to carry on working with Medusa and progress through the levels of a stylist.
Do you have any tips for someone looking to start an apprenticeship?
Neva: It’s hard work, you always have to smile and it can be a long day on your feet. However, I have made friends for life and I’m loving learning and gaining more confidence.
Be sure to catch our live with Colin and Neva at 2pm on Friday! Follow our social media channels to make sure you don’t miss a thing.