Business Featured

Why you should be taking on new apprentices and tapping into support from the government | Gavin Mills, Bad Apple Hair

September 10, 2020

Gavin Mills is owner of Bad Apple Hair Salons, 9 salons in the West Midlands and Liverpool, and an academy in Wolverhampton.

With an active client base of 38,000, the brand has its 70-strong team at its heart and a reputation as a first class employer – outstanding training (including a £2k annual budget each to spend on education), and benefits including income protection, life insurance and a 24/7 virtual GP service are just some of the perks enjoyed by staff.

Here Gavin tells us why salon owners should be taking new apprentices and tapping into support from the government.

While these feel like uncertain times we plan to take on 20 assistants/apprenticeships from August – usually we offer 10 places but by tapping into the government’s support we’re going to double this, and would encourage other salons to do the same.

As an industry we’ve been struggling in recent years to fill apprentice roles with good quality candidates, but one positive outcome of the pandemic is that hairdressers have become more valued and proven to be a solid profession, by and large surviving the COVID fallout that has hit the high street.

It might be tempting to freeze recruitment to keep expenditure at a minimum but it’s really essential that we help drive talent within the group and this is the same for all salons – as a business you need to keep generating new hairdressers to give existing staff the opportunity to grow and have movement within the structure.

How can you move your team up the pay-scale when there’s no one to take their place on the lower rungs of the ladder?

More than ever, the importance for home grown apprenticeships and bringing new talent through is crucial to our industry.

This is a chance to get a host of youngsters in through the door and onto the floor –  we’ve had over 200 applicants between 16-18 years olds apply for apprenticeships with us in just one month so the demand for learners/apprenticeships is still very much there.

We all know what it’s like to recruit for staff only to find that they need a certain amount of retraining to get them on track to represent your brand on the salon floor, and when we can bring staff through from initial training onwards we have much better outcome for them in the long term – what salon doesn’t want stylists progressing through the ranks who know your salon culture inside out and live and breathe the way you do things, because that’s how they’ve been trained!

We’re treating the government’s support with the extra £2,000 on top of the existing £1,000 support for us as a bonus, and putting it towards hiring more apprentices. Rather than seeing it as a quick cash injection to the business we believe this is an opportunity to make a long term investment into well-educated staff.

We are now also offering 3 fully paid jobs and qualifications (Level 2) to people who want to get into the industry but who are over 25 and may have lost a job or want a career change.

Bad Apple is paying via its academy the full cost of the qualification and we’ll be paying a full salary so that they can earn while they learn at a decent rate that will realistically attract and keep quality team members.

So often we hear of people who are older and want to retrain but it isn’t financially workable. With some short term investment this could be a way to successfully integrate reliable staff with great people skills who will more than pay their way when they qualify.

We can’t wait to restart the NVQ training/education within the group and have these apprenticeships develop into amazing future talent within the industry.

Education is core to Bad Apple’s success, delivered by our in house award winning education team. Over 24 months every week in our academy we go above and beyond the basic training the NVQ level 2 and level 3 has to offer.

Bad Apple Classics’ programme aims to continuously push quality training throughout the industry.

The apprenticeship training incorporates 14 classic cuts and 10 classic colours, 3 classic blowdries, as well as Barbering, Afro,  Textured hair (not on the curriculum but a non-negotiable for us – all apprentices are trained in afro and textured hair) and a full 5 step consultation training programme.

Tapping into this government funding is key to keeping the industry fresh with a wealth of new talent educated to high standards and I hope that salon owners nationwide are able to take advantage of it to grow their team, especially if they’ve struggled with recruitment in the past.

Bad Apple Hair Salons &