The Dangers of This Process, Part One

In my last post about the Targeted Review of Qualifications (TRoQ), I wrote about how qualifications in New Zealand are changing.

In this post and the next, I’d like to tell you about some of the dangers this process can present to the future of our industry.

The Dangers of This Process

Many attendees at the 7 April 2013 TRoQ meeting in Wellington agreed that New Zealand produces amongst the top beauty therapists in the world. This is a statement repeated by international examiners, international visitors, and others in our industry.

This proves that, for the most part, what we teach in New Zealand and how we teach it is working, and it is working very, very well. Many other countries are envious of our high standard, and they look to us for inspiration and best practice in beauty therapy education.

At the aforementioned meeting, many of us came to the conclusion that the vast majority of what we teach is needed, and we teach it well. There are minor areas that need adjustment, inclusion or exclusion, but overall, what we teach:

  • Meets or exceeds international benchmarks and standards in beauty therapy; and
  • Is similar to systems and education offered throughout the world; and
  • Is transferable between many countries throughout the world.

What we have now, including international qualifications like ITEC and CIDESCO, enables our graduates to travel with their qualifications without needing further training. ITEC and CIDESCO especially are qualifications that are “truly transportable”, as ITEC likes to put it.

But some factions in our industry see this process as a blank slate, on which we can wipe everything that we do away, and start afresh. An even smaller (but somewhat vocal) minority want to radically change the way we deliver and teach beauty therapy.

In short, I’m asking: “Why do we need to reinvent the wheel, especially if we have the same style of wheels but the best wheels in the world?” Especially when “our wheel” gets us to where we need to go with very little hassle.

A seemingly very vocal minority who would very much benefit from changes have proposed:

  • Eliminating or greatly reducing the role of beauty therapy education providers and introducing apprenticeships as a way (or the main way) to complete a beauty therapy qualification.
  • Demand students who have completed their training complete an additional group of “capstone” units to gain confidence and before their qualification can be awarded.
  • Eliminating international qualifications and establishing benchmarks amongst other countries’ qualifications ourselves against our qualifications.

Apprenticeships versus In-Class Training

Obviously, we providers want to keep training in-class. Some of the things I may say in this section may sound self-serving, but there are industry people out there who also agree with our stance. I’ll bring some of their views into this conversation as well.

To my knowledge, most countries around the world teach beauty therapy at a training provider like ours. From what I have heard from my colleagues in Australia, where apprenticeships are one option of training on gaining a beauty therapy qualification, apprenticeships are not well-suited for our industry. According to my sources in Australia, beauty therapy apprentices tend to have lower quality skills and lack in-depth knowledge that is required to be successful in our industry.

One of my big worries with shifting to an apprenticeship system is consistency.

Currently, there are 7 tutors at the National School of Aesthetics, dealing with approximately 60 to 70 students at any one given time. Some of these tutors deal with specific subjects, like Anatomy and Physiology or Electrology. The training for each and every one of these students receives is of the same or extremely similar standard.

As a team of professional teachers, they are equipped with the most modern teaching methods to help students achieve and succeed. They have a standard of assessment, and they are moderated so that assessment outcomes should be consistent among different students and classes.

Let’s say there’s a shift to the apprenticeship model in beauty therapy training in New Zealand. This means there needs to be 60 to 70 clinics to take one student each in Christchurch. Each of these clinics will have to devote 1 person or more to teaching each student everything from waxing to electrolysis in order to qualify, even if the clinic doesn’t offer those treatments. This means that, potentially, there could be 60 to 70 apprentices out there with varying levels of training, and 60 to 70 clinic employees or owners needing to act as teacher, assessor, and moderator of their own activities. In addition to the employee’s typical duties, he or she will need to devote time to training an apprentice and the paperwork that goes with it, and he or she will need to ensure he or she is competent in his or her delivery of all aspects of education.

While we as an industry will have guarantees that the standard should be consistent, there should be that slight worry that the standard is consistent.

Having dealt with NZQA and industry-based unit standard assessment moderation in the past, I can tell you that the process, at the time, was not consistent. From what I heard at the meeting on 7 April 2013 from fellow educators, the process is still not very consistent.

Another worry that our industry colleagues have brought to our attention is client privacy and the negative financial impact an apprentice could have on the clinic.

Many clinics in New Zealand are either owned and operated by one person, or have a very small team.

Many beauty therapy treatments, such as body massage, facials, electrolysis and waxing, require client privacy in a cubicle or room with only the therapist and the client present. This is different from hairdressing where the client is out in the open with another clients and several hairdressers, as there is very little need for client privacy or to protect the client’s modesty, as there is in beauty therapy.

One clinic owner at our 7 April 2013 meeting made the following case:

She employs two other beauty therapists alongside her, but out of the team, she is the most qualified and most experienced of the three.

If apprenticeships came in, she felt she would need to supervise and teach the apprentice.

In intimate treatments such as Brazilian Waxing and body massage, there would be an extra person in the room, which many clients may have issues with. In addition, this extra person would be talking and giving guidance through treatments to the apprentice, which may also affect the quality of the treatment.

She stated that she would be losing money as her clinic brought in various higher-end clients, and they paid a premium price to have that clinic perform their treatments.

With an apprentice in the room and performing the treatments, she would need to charge a significantly lower rate, which could not only affect her clients but also her overall client base.

In addition, apprenticeships would also take longer to complete than the standard 1-year training currently on offer. Clinics and industry owners have indicated, quite strongly, that the 1-year training regime should stay. Whether the minority wanting apprenticeships will listen remains to be seen.

In my next post, I’ll continue to talk about The Dangers of This Process.

Scott Fack is the Director of Operations at the National School of Aesthetics. He remains one of the beauty therapy education industry’s leaders in compliance requirements and quality management systems. The information supplied in this blog entry is his point-of-view of the Targeted Review of Qualifications for beauty therapy.


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