4 July 2017

An NHF survey carried out in June 2017 revealed that 82% of hairdressing, barbering and beauty employers say that recruiting qualified and experienced staff is ‘very difficult’ or ‘difficult’, especially for businesses in more rural locations. 

The NHF on recruiting apprentices

Recruiting apprentices is also tough.  Around one third of survey respondents pay their apprentices more than the National Minimum Wage but even so, 33% are finding recruiting apprentices ‘very difficult’ and 39% are finding it ‘difficult’ in their area.

Recruitment within other industries

This recruitment crisis is not unique to hairdressing, barbering and beauty as estimates from the Labour Force Survey (June 2017) shows that over the last 6 months the number of people in work has increased and the employment rate – the proportion of people aged 16 to 24 who are in work – is at record levels, the highest since 1971.

Competition for hair and beauty business owners

The NHF has also highlighted recent research from the Local Data Company which shows that barbers, beauty salons, nail bars, and hair and beauty salons are all in the top 10 of new businesses opening.  So, as well as a shortage of people looking for employment, there are also more employers competing with each other for staff with the right skills.

Why business owners opt for apprentices

Yet despite the difficulties in recruitment, employers responding to the NHF survey slated college-based training courses because they don’t equip college leavers with the technical and social skills employers need.  For this reason, a whopping 97% of employers preferred apprenticeships.  Employers were also worried that schools and parents encourage learners to stay on at school or go to college rather than going into an apprenticeship, even though, in our sector, apprenticeships are far more likely to lead to employment. 

The Low Pay Commission on the hairdressing industry

In 2016, the Low Pay Commission identified hairdressing as the industry with the highest proportion of low-paid jobs, followed by childcare, hospitality and cleaning.  Employers taking part in the survey acknowledged that hairdressing, barbering and beauty are seen as low pay industries (16%) and that they are all too often seen as ‘dead-end’ career choices (8%). 

The NHF's stance

Chief executive of the NHF, Hilary Hall, added: ‘Wages are already increasing rapidly due to the National Living Wage, but employers may have no option but to pay more if they want to attract the right people into their business and keep them there.   Increasing competition from other employers, coupled with a shortage of people looking for work, is creating a recruitment crisis across the UK for our industry.’