Thursday night, 20/20 reported on the incidence of medical issues arising from poor hygiene and sterlisation (amongst other things) in some clinics in the Auckland region. It’s interesting to note that some (if not all) of these nail bars seemed to be run in malls. I would wager that some of the operators did not hold recognised qualifications.
If you didn’t see the report, you can find it here: http://tvnz.co.nz/20-20-news/nailed-video-6001303
At The National School of Aesthetics, we have pushed and continue to push for high standards in the beauty therapy industry. These standards are apparent in appearance and uniform, and they extend to knowledge in anatomy and physiology, hygiene and sterilisation, record-keeping, diseases and disorders, contraindications, and so on. We’ve built our nearly 30 year reputation through strong training and education.
In the early 2000s, the Tertiary Education Commission granted us additional funding to properly train nail technicians for inclusion in the industry. We even ran Recognition of Prior Learning programmes to help nail technicians with non-NZQA-Approved nail technology qualifications upgrade to our NZQA-Approved Certificate in Nail Technology. The uptake on the latter was poor, and this led to many nail technicians out there offering treatments without an NZQA-Approved qualification.
Despite pushing these standards, some potential students do not see the value in our 15 week NZQA-Approved Certificate in Nail Technology and decide to undertake a non-NZQA-Approved short nail technology course, thinking the less time they spend in a classroom, the better. But graduates from these short, non-approved nail technology courses most likely do not hold the same level of competence in their skills or knowledge, especially in anatomy and physiology, diseases and disorders, or hygiene and sterilisation as our graduates do. And therein lies the problem.
How can we help educate the general public about the importance of proper training and NZQA-recognised qualifications?
- We can educate the general public about the importance of seeing an NZQA-Approved programme’s certificate or diploma hanging on the wall in the clinic or asking the nail technician or beauty therapist if he or she qualified through an NZQA-Registered provider, gaining an NZQA-Approved programme’s certificate or diploma.
- We can explain that NZQA-Registered tertiary education organisations go through a rigorous process to gain registration and must go through stringent processes to maintain registration with NZQA. Non-registered TEOs do not go through this process and most times have no outside monitoring to ensure they meet local and national guidelines.
- We can point out that an NZQA-Approved programme goes through a very thorough process, including reviews by industry experts and industry in general, before being approved. Non-registered TEOs usually are not moderated and many times have no outside input to ensure the best standards for their students and graduates are available and enforced.
- We can keep providing the old adages that, “You get what you pay for,” and “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
- We can attempt to curb the public’s behaviour of supporting clinics hiring non-qualified nail technicians or beauty therapists through an education campaign.
- We can try to convince potential nail technicians and beauty therapists that they should train through an NZQA-Registered tertiary education organisation and gain an NZQA-Approved qualification.
As an industry, we have been threatened with licensing and other compliance measures that will add more time and effort for the clinic owner, many of who are sole owner-operators, to meet bureaucratic requirements. This will mean less time to have appointments and make money, and more time to fill out paperwork and spend money on meeting compliance measures. But maybe this is what the industry needs to protect the general public and properly-trained nail technicians and beauty therapists from the rogues and cowboy operators out there.
The choice is ours as an industry to make.
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.