Headline: My Hairdressing Apprenticeship Journey

From a very early age I knew I wanted to be a hairdresser, the excitement of the salon environment, the ever-changing industry and I could be as artistic and creative as I wanted to be.

My secondary school headteacher was not impressed, her very words were “ what a waste of a brain!” and try as she might I would not be swayed into A levels.

I knew where I wanted to do my apprenticeship in Bournemouth; the Scissors Hair Design Group were the salons to be seen at back in the early 1980’s, they had an amazing reputation for training and clients loved them. They only minor issue standing in my way was their interview process and hundreds of budding applicants like myself.

I had a slight advantage that I had been working most Saturdays since the age of 13 at the salon my nan used to go to every week so I knew some basics, which after submitting my application form seemed to do the trick.

After being grilled by a panel of directors at interviews, doing two separate day trials, presenting to further senior members of staff as to why I wanted to be a hairdresser and my parent being interviewed as well, all at the tender age of 16, I finally made it, out of hundreds of applicants I had been successful, I was going to be a Scissors apprentice!

Life was perfect, I had achieved the impossible and got my dream hairdressing apprenticeship and I couldn’t wait to start.

Having the passion and motivation for my chosen industry together with lots of research had got me through, nothing was going to take away my goal.

My first week as a hairdressing apprentice was amazing, exciting and very scary, everything was new and terrifying and I was exhausted. After coming straight from school, working 40 hours a week was a real shock.

I was with five other new apprentices in the Poole branch and we all worked our socks off, so we thought, until Saturday night arrived at 5pm when we were all lined up in front of the firing squad of stylists, salon directors and our manager who proceeded to produce notebooks on our performances and every move that we made that week.

We were criticised, critiqued and made to feel very inadequate. They then proceeded to tell us what was expected of us next week. As you can imagine sitting on my bus journey home was a tearful and very sorry experience, but nothing was going to put me off. I loved being a hairdresser and the whole environment was intoxicating and I couldn’t wait to get back the next week. The feedback had just made me more determined to succeed and impress next week.

This strict process continued for the next five years of my apprenticeship; we had training two nights every week, constant one-to-one training, support and guidance from all staff in the salons. They were amazing and so patient. We were all like sponges sucking up every bit of knowledge and practical experience. It was the best most exciting time of my life. We participated in competitions, travelled, went on training courses and met multiple famous hairdressers who were my idols, they were constantly inspiring me stretch, challenge myself and to succeed.

The social life that came with working for Scissors as an apprentice was incredible, we were like rock stars when we went, getting in to clubs for free and being recognised as hairdressers that worked for Scissors.

When I finally completed my apprenticeship, we had a big awards ceremony at a large hotel.

Our manager who had pushed us all hard every single day, often to tears, stood up and said that from week one the five of us were amazing but she proceeded to tell us that had we been told this information when we started we would have never improved, nowadays this seems cruel but looking back I can appreciate her thinking, it certainly worked!

Her passion for us to succeed was evident every day, it was a very harsh lesson but after five years we could all see why she had done it, I would never have been where I am today with her investment in me and my apprenticeship.

My apprenticeship was about so much more than hairdressing, she took a shy, quiet and timid 16-year-old girl and gave me confidence, a voice and installed a passion and work ethic that has never left me, I give every day 100% effort and strive to do my very best, if I get knock down, I pick myself up and come back for more tomorrow.

Being an apprentice was the making of me, people believed in me and worked hard to see me achieve, it was the best career decision I have ever made, I can’t believe I had the courage at 16 to stand up for what I really wanted.

I have honestly got out of bed every day loving what I do, my career has taken many twists and turns over the years but it has been amazing, I have never regretted a single day, how many people can say that?

I was proud to have completed an apprenticeship and have trained and supported many apprentices over the subsequent years. I have spent a huge amount of time promoting apprenticeships in schools, colleges and to parents who often turn their noses up at this pathway.

I would encourage all learners to choose something that makes them feel happy, enthusiastic and motivated to get you out of bed every morning however challenging it might be, no one said life or work was going to be easy but choosing the right educational pathway for you is always the right decision. For me, working, learning and earning was the perfect option, it kept me interested, keen to learn and motivated, I was able to put into practice everything I was learning and seeing the instant results.

My apprenticeship has made me who I am today. If I could go back to see my old headteacher I would have loved to stand tall in front of her and say I have had an incredible career thank you, when she turned up her nose all those years ago she inspired me to prove her wrong!

I would strongly encourage and urge more employers to consider employing apprentices, you can help to create that passion and excitement for more young people, inspire them to succeed and be that best they can be, quality apprenticeship training is never forgotten and will always be remembered.

Judith Moule,


ETA Consultancy Services

ETA Consultancy Services offers free training needs analysis to employers to help educate and develop their employees and specialise in apprenticeships. For more information, go to etacs.co.uk.