Should I take a hairdressing job without doing a PLC course?
Ask Brian: A formal qualification will make it easier to advance in Ireland or abroad
The lure of an immediate wage in areas like hairdressing may be tempting, but it is worth considering the long-term benefit of an internationally recognised award. Photograph: iStock
Question: My daughter is sitting the Leaving Cert soon and has always wanted to become a hairdresser. She has an interview for a hairdressing course in Sallynoggin College soon, but a friend has offered to take her on as her apprentice. Should she take up this offer or seek a place on the PLC (post-Leaving Cert) course?
Answer: It is important to realise that there is no national apprentice programme for hairdressing. This means your daughter’s training in your friend’s salon will not be formally recognised, either nationally or internationally.
What she learns from your friend and the experience she gains will be limited by the quality and range of work available in her salon.
If this salon is a small-scale operation, your daughter could be left without the full array of skill sets or experience needed to reach her full potential within the industry. It is always advisable to consider her longer-term career needs.
You referred to Sallynoggin College’s course in hairdressing as one of the options open to her. It is one of several large PLC colleges in the south Dublin/north Wicklow area.
All these colleges offer a wide range of fully accredited qualifications at level five and six (Leaving Cert/higher certificate), including hairdressing in a number of cases. I would advise her to research them all fully on the Qualifax (www.qualifax.ie) website.
Sallynoggin College offers a hands-on practical hairdressing and beauty course at level five with the option to progress to a level six award (higher certificate) in second year. The course also includes certain beauty therapies and additional industry certificates such as ITEC.
Recognised accredited qualifications will not just make it easier to advance her career in Ireland, but will be very advantageous should she wish to work abroad.
While there are financial charges for PLC courses, these tend to be quite affordable. Depending on your circumstances, reduced rates apply for medical card holders, and your daughter may qualify for a maintenance grant.
PLC courses such as hairdressing have a work experience block, and in the case of Sallynoggin a timetabled work placement day each week. So, maybe a good solution would be for your daughter to combine her PLC course with one or two days a week of real-world salon experience with your friend.
When the last recession hit in 2008, less qualified workers were the most adversely affected.
Thankfully, in our improving economy today, there are more immediate employment opportunities for school-leavers.
There is a high demand at the moment for young workers in the service sectors such as hairdressing, leisure, retail, hospitality, tourism, and childcare.
Some sectors, such as childcare, are highly regulated. To work in these sectors, the appropriate level five or level six award is mandatory.
In a sector such as hairdressing which doesn’t require a specific qualification or will accept school-leavers, the lure of an immediate wage may be tempting. However, it is always well worth seriously considering the long-term benefit of an internationally recognised award.