Congratulations on being named Patron of Honour - what will you be doing with this role?
Andrew: I’m really looking forward to working with the Council and industry leaders to achieve the ambition of the Hair & Barber Council. It’s a huge responsibility but I’m thrilled to have received so much industry support.
Why do you believe that hairdressers and barbers should get behind mandatory registration?
Andrew: The Council’s main aim is to give the industry one voice and unify the sector behind the Act of Parliament, with all hairdressers and barbers united together with all industry organisations. One voice, one body that avoids fragmentation and gives us the power to present and negotiate with Government and beyond.
What’s your message to those who aren’t interested?
Andrew: Change is always about progress, commitment and dedication. We are all concerned about under qualified practice and the pursuit of raising standards. Registration recognises best practice through qualification and unqualified stylists do not best represent the industry. I believe it will help with staff retention, career progression and attracting the right calibre of people.
How frustrating is it to see the hairdressing industry not taken seriously by Government?
Andrew: I think the industry would be taken more seriously if we were state registered, just like so many other professions. I think the support during the pandemic would have been very different. I’ve been an advocate of education and qualification throughout my career through apprenticeships and through my ABLE scholarship programme for further education colleges.
We spoke to Hair & Barber Council Patron of Honour Andrew Barton and registrar Keith Conniford about the issues facing the industry and why mandatory registration is so important to them
I t’s been a tough few years for hairdressing, where is the industry right now?
Keith: The industry has had many challenges to get through, and now we have the cost-of-living crisis. Successive Governments have historically overlooked our sector. Whilst we are in a much better place with Government now than ever before, and we have regular meetings with Ministers, without a unified sector I fear things will never get to where I believe the industry needs to be.
You’re looking for the hairdressing and barbering industry to be registered, what does this mean?
Keith: It means many things; protection of the sector moving forward, raising of agreed industry standards, industry run by industry, unity of the whole sector, hugely strengthened position/platform with Government, much heightened awareness of the fantastic career possibilities to parents, much raised perception for the public of our sector, addressing the VAT disparity, being able to charge the prices we are worth, clamping down on the non-trained/non-experienced element of the sector, recruitment and retention of staff, greater scrutiny of short courses, creating an equal platform for all (salon/barber shop based, freelance etc) and so on. In short, ensuring our great industry is recognised by all for the professionals we truly are.
What does the future hold for the industry? What do you think are the most pressing issues?
Keith: I think there are a lot of issues we need to deal with; for example, the ‘under the radar’ hairdressing and barbering services being undertaken, in many cases by untrained and unqualified individuals, the training funding crisis and the Government’s position to mainly fund 16–18-year-olds, to ensure better training and upskilling, to have a much stronger emphasis on the marketing of our industry, the staffing crisis and on-going financial pressures.
What’s involved with registration?
Keith: It is currently voluntary, and you can become state registered by logging on to our website; www.haircouncil.org.uk. Having proven your qualifications and experience you will be added to the professional register for hairdressers and barbers in the UK as a ‘Professional Hairdresser/barber’. You are then entitled under the Act of Parliament to use official letters after your name; either SRH (State Registered Hairdresser) or SRB (State Registered Barber). By joining the register, your status as a ‘professional’ is enhanced to your customers and peers alike and greatly supports the work and future of the industry.