October 11, 2017 - 11:30am
The change means access to standardized training and the ability to have education apply across Canada
Vancouver Island University (VIU) Hairdressing student Gabrielle Mayor loves everything about her chosen trade, from cutting and colouring hair to creating elaborate up-styles.
It’s a creative trade where she’s always learning something new, constantly reading up on the latest trends to stay relevant and building close relationships with people so she can meet their needs. But until this year, Mayor felt that people didn’t always take hairdressing seriously as a trade.
“I feel like some people think hairdressing is easy and you don’t need a lot of training to do it,” says the 20-year-old. “But there’s a lot to know and remember - everything from your stance, how you’re holding the hair and mixing the colours - it all takes a lot of skill and training. Hairdressers can have a huge impact on a person’s confidence and feeling of well-being - after all, it’s one of the first things people look at when it comes to appearance.”
Starting this year, students entering VIU’s Hairdressing program will be eligible for Red Seal endorsement - standardized training that’s recognized across Canada. The change has meant that the Hairdressing program at VIU is now a two-level program with a standardized exam and assessment at the end.
To be eligible for their Red Seal, students take an 11-month foundation program that includes a work experience component. Upon successful completion of this first level, students are ready to seek employment and secure an industry sponsor before returning to the classroom to complete the second level of training. With both levels of technical training under their belts, they are then ready to write their Interprovincial Red Seal exam that includes a 6.5-hour practical exam.
The Industry Training Authority will manage the certification process in BC. The Red Seal endorsement is now available to hairdressers across Canada.
Gary Herman, ITA CEO, says the ITA decided to move in this direction after extensive consultation with all stakeholders in 2011, including industry associations, educators, training program representatives, practitioners and salon owners.
“A comprehensive industry needs analysis was also conducted, which confirmed the need for standardization and legitimized industry concerns over qualification,” he says. “The Red Seal will enable people to work across Canada and it is also highly regarded around the world.”
Mayor, who works at Aura Hair Boutique in Bowen Plaza, is excited to have access to such a high level of training.
“Hopefully within two or three years I’ll have my Red Seal certification,” she says.
Hairdressing Instructor Sally Vinden was part of a committee formed by the ITA in 2010 to develop the Red Seal credential for ITA-accredited institutions across the province. She says hairdressing was deregulated in 2003, leaving hairdressers without standardized industry regulations, so this change is going back to the trade’s roots, so to speak.
“We worked on this for such a long time, so to have it now in place is so exciting,” she says. “A Red Seal is a well-recognized symbol of professionalism and competence, so this validates the high level of skills that are required to be a good hairdresser. It raises the profile of the trade.”
Another benefit of making the trade eligible for Red Seal endorsement is that apprentices and their employers are eligible for tax credits and grants that weren’t available previously when the program wasn’t affiliated with the ITA.
Vinden is reaching out to local hair salons to let them know about the change. She expects many hairstylists and salon owners working in the industry will want to get their Red Seal.
“This is a credential that they’ve talked about having access to since the profession was deregulated,” she adds.
Jenn McGarrigle, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University