Tag Archives: travelling with your qualifications

Why Recognised and Approved Training is Important

NaSA students perform manicures on one another
NaSA students perform manicures on one another. Source: Christchurch Press

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.


Scott’s Plain English Guide to the Targeted Review of Qualifications

More often than not, reading NZQA information is like trying to read Klingon.

As I said in my previous post about the New Zealand Beauty Expo, one of the most humbling pieces of feedback I received was about my blog entries on the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) Targeted Review of Qualifications (TRoQ) in beauty therapy education.

Some providers and industry people said that my blog entries were easy-to-read and easy-to-understand.  I tried my best to avoid all the educational gobbeldygook speak that puts a lot of people off because, basically, reading it is like trying to read Klingon.

So, without further ado, here links to all the entries to make life a little easier:

I do not mind if you are another provider who wants to share these entries with your stakeholders or local industry, a beauty magazine or Web site wanting to share these entries with your readers or followers, a clinic owner or beauty therapist wanting to share this with your team members or with other beauty therapists, or a general member of the public wanting to share this with whomever, as long as you credit me as the author.  I believe this information is important so our industry, not a few organisations, can make the best choices for our educational future in this industry in New Zealand.

Thank you for your support!

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.

The Opportunities This Process Brings

Apologies for the break between my last post about this and this one.  We had our NZQA External Evaluation and Review on Tuesday and Wednesday, I had my normal duties to perform on Thursday, and we were only at work for an hour or so on Friday because it started to snow… quite hard!

In my last post about the Targeted Review of Qualifications (TRoQ), I wrote about the dangers of this process.

In this post, I’ll talk about how the opportunities this process brings and wrap this all up.

The Opportunities This Process Brings

A Standardised Set of Skills

The New Zealand beauty therapy industry will now have a concrete set of skills and knowledge to determine what a beauty therapist, what a nail technician, what a spa therapist is.  As industry, you will feel somewhat more secure that a graduate from the National School of Aesthetics and a graduate from another provider will have (theoretically) the same core set of skills and knowledge.

This strengthens our industry as a whole because it ensures there are standard baselines each and every NZQA-Registered provider will have to have their programme meet in order to issue the New Zealand Diploma in Beauty Therapy.

While this is not an automatic guarantee of the quality of training, it does put all providers on a level playing field.  What they do on the field is up to them, but I personally feel it will lead to some interesting developments and a strengthening of quality in general.

A Clear Pathway

One of the most exciting things to emerge from this is that we have the opportunity to show a clear pathway through our industry.  You might be asking, “What is a pathway?”

A pathway is where a person can follow through a logical trail of programmes, each one more difficult or more specialised than the last, in order to become an expert in their field. In some cases, they may need to complete a lower level programme in order to progress to a higher level.

How can this work in the beauty therapy industry?

From my understanding of our preliminary conversations in the meeting on 7 April 2013, the new New Zealand qualifications in the beauty industry may take shape like this:

Maybe a high school student is interested in beauty therapy but not sure if the industry is for him or her.  There will be an introductory Certificate in Beauty Treatments, sitting around the level 2 mark.  This won’t teach him or her to be an actual beauty therapist, but it will give him or her a taste of some of the simpler treatments and knowledge of our industry.  This won’t be a compulsory qualification to have in order to progress to the next level.

There will be a New Zealand Certificate in Nail Technology, sitting at level 4.  Level 4 is equivalent to some of the lower level subjects in beauty therapy currently.  A student from the introductory certificate mentioned above may discover nail technology is the industry for him or her, so he or she progresses to the New Zealand Certificate in Nail Technology to specialise in that field.

Another option the student might wish to undertake would be the New Zealand Certificate in Makeup Artistry or New Zealand Certificate in Special Effects Makeup, at or around levels 4 and 5.  I personally wasn’t too involved in this area, so I could have my facts a little mixed up, but it was my understanding that there would be a more generalised makeup artistry qualification and also a special effects makeup qualification.  Whether these would be separate fields a student could specialise in, or he or she would need to take one before the other will be fleshed out and discussed later by experts in that industry.

A third option for this student is the New Zealand Diploma in Beauty Therapy.  As educators, we agreed that there probably is no longer a need for a New Zealand Certificate in Facial Therapy by itself.  Many providers no longer offer this as a stand-alone qualification, so we discussed that there would be a “core” area in the New Zealand Diploma in Beauty Therapy which would be comprised of what would be that certificate, but the student would need to have body therapy and even electrology skills as well in order to fully qualify.

The student undertaking the New Zealand Diploma in Beauty Therapy would start with level 4 tasks and knowledge and move into level 5 tasks and knowledge as he or she progressed.  The Diploma would sit at level 5, and it would be one of the main (if not the main) qualification in the “suite”.

Currently, this is where the system stops in most areas.  Congrats, you’re a beauty therapist.  Off you go into the big wonderful world of beauty therapy to find your way on your own.

This hopefully will change.

The details are still somewhat up-in-the-air at present, but from what I understand, and from my conversations with other educators, it appears there may be two to three large post-graduate pathways added to the “suite”.

Our student (now a qualified beauty therapist) could progress to the New Zealand Diploma in Spa Therapies.  Here, he or she would learn more hands-on, manual therapies, adapting Swedish massage skills to deliver a wide range of massage techniques like Shiatsu, Thai massage, aromatherapy massage, and so on.  The student would also deal with hydrotherapy and water treatments, amongst other treatments.  This would sit around levels 5 or 6 on the framework.

He or she could also progress to a more hair-removal-focused area.  This could include things like IPL, advanced electrology, advanced waxing techniques, and so on.  The student could build on his or her existing skills to gain something like a New Zealand Certificate in Advanced Hair Removal Techniques.  (Yes, I just made that name up because I couldn’t think of what it actually would be called.)  This would sit around level 6 as well.

A third option would be something like a New Zealand Diploma in Paramedical Beauty Therapy.  Our student would learn advanced peels, advanced anatomy and physiology (mostly a deeper understanding of the skin), laser skin treatments, and anything bridging the gap between beauty therapists and cosmetic surgeons / dermatologists.  At the level 6 level of things, this programme would allow our student to advance into some pretty spectacular employment opportunities.

Sounds pretty cool, huh?

As providers, some of these higher-level, more-specialised programmes were hard to develop in relative isolation.  With an industry-wide consensus on what these qualifications should look like, providers should then have relative ease in creating a programme to match.

A Chance for Us to Work Together Toward a Better Future for Our Industry

This process gives us, as providers, therapists, employees, owner / operators, importers, product houses, educators, and students to work together to make a more cohesive qualification system.  If we’re all on the same (or very similar) page, we can do great things as an industry.

This is a very rare opportunity to build a strong, consistent educational foundation for our industry in New Zealand, link it internationally, and ensure it remains one of the best beauty therapy qualification suites in the world.

I know I keep saying this, but we need your help as people in the industry (in one way or another), who have gone through the training, to give this process the best outcomes.

Right now, the working groups are still being formed.  The Governance Group has had their first and second meetings, and things should be rolling along nicely.

No one at the National School of Aesthetics has nominated themselves for these groups.  Why?  As a provider, we’re still recovering from the quakes, and none of us felt we could devote the adequate time or resources to the process.  We knew that other providers we work well with were forwarding strong candidates, and we support these people.  We trust them to make the correct decisions in these areas.

But our feedback, like yours, is still considered in the overall process.  Providers like ours have the power to approve or veto at certain stages of the process.

If you’d like to keep up-to-date with how things are progressing with the Beauty TRoQ, HITO and the Association have set up a Web site at http://www.beautytroq.com where you can sign up to receive regular email bulletins and information about how this process is progressing.  You can also give your feedback, whether this is from you individually or from your company or clinic.

Thank You

Thanks for reading.  I hope that these posts have been helpful in explaining this rather large and sometimes overwhelming 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.

The Dangers of This Process, Part Two

In my last post about the Targeted Review of Qualifications (TRoQ), I wrote about the dangers of this process.

In this post, I’ll add more about some of the dangers this process can present to the future of our industry.

The Dangers of This Process, Part Two

Competence versus Confidence

Another part of the “problem”, as perceived from the faction I mentioned in my previous post, is that graduates are not experts by the time they graduate.

Nor should they be experts.  Many other graduates emerge from their programme in many other subject areas the same way.  As one of our colleagues from Elite stated, “There is a big difference between competence and confidence.”

(Just to explain for people who don’t quite understand the weight of that sentence.  Competence means you are able to carry out the treatment or show you know about a subject by doing it or answering a question correctly.  Confidence is your ability to perform the treatment well without a second thought or answer a question without any hesitation.)

As teachers, we can determine competence, but confidence is more difficult.  Some students will graduate both competent and confident in their abilities.  Some students may graduate competent in their abilities and take ten years of working before they are fully confident.  Some students may graduate competent and never feel entirely confident.

In short: confidence cannot be taught.  It varies from person to person.

Some of the vocal minority have suggested tacking on “capstone” units, as used in the hairdressing industry, to the qualifications to boost confidence.  This would mean, after a person finishes beauty therapy training, they may need to complete an additional few years working in a clinic to complete their diploma.

In the beauty therapy industry, we have a higher-than-normal turnover rate.  This seems to sit around 18% or so, which is slightly higher than the overall average of around 17% throughout all industries.

From a funding standpoint – and funding is one area I deal with here at NaSA – implementing “capstone” units could heavily damage funding for beauty therapy education in total.

Tertiary education funding at our level is linked now to three main things:

  • How many students complete their studies (not withdraw), called retention;
  • How many students finish each component of the programme, called course completion;
  • How many students finish the programme and gain the qualification, called qualification completion.

Adding a few years onto gaining a beauty therapy qualification will see:

  • The number of students withdrawing increasing; and
  • The number of students completing all components, especially the “capstone” units, dropping;
  • The number of students gaining the qualification significantly diminishing.

I also predict that the turnover rate will affect the number of people gaining the qualification.

When outcomes drop below a certain threshold, we will see funding taken away from beauty therapy education providers, no matter if the system is apprenticeship-based or classroom-based.

Currently, once a student finishes his or her beauty therapy programme, he or she is qualified.  It is then up to industry or the clinic he or she works at to build that confidence in the way that the owner, manager, or senior therapist feels will best suit that particular therapist.

Under a “capstone” unit-based system, clinics may need to supply someone able to assess against these units, and the beauty therapist would need to meet certain criteria, whether or not those criteria suit the person him- or herself.

To my knowledge, many other countries do not engage in a “capstone” unit-based system once a beauty therapist has finished his or her initial training programme.

Then there is the danger of miscalculation.  What if the graduate is confident but lacks the vision to see that?  What if the person assessing the graduate has such a high standard that no graduate can ever be confident in his or her eyes?

Confidence can be a very subjective thing.

International Qualifications versus Benchmarking the New Zealand Diploma in Beauty Therapy Against Other Countries’ Qualifications

When I moved to New Zealand way back in 1996, I could have submitted my US degree to NZQA to have it matched up to New Zealand standards.  The problem with this was that I had heard horror stories from fellow ex-pats (not only American) about how NZQA took too long to make a ruling and usually that ruling stated the degree was not to a New Zealand standard and part of it needed to be retaken at a New Zealand university.  This is amazing for American degrees as American degrees tend to be 4 to 5 years in duration and deal with not only general university-level education but also very in-depth education in your major and minor subject focuses.

This didn’t really hit home until my friend Mary, also an American, told me her story after I told her I was thinking of getting my US degree “recognised” by NZQA.

She said that she had submitted her degree for analysis 8 years earlier – 8 years! – and after a lot of money, stress, tears, and heartbreak, she heard back (finally) that NZQA would not recognise her 5 year American degree.  If she wanted to enter the field she specialised in in New Zealand, she would have to retake some or all of her degree, despite having a valid practicing license and experience from her home state in the USA.

For her, her American degree and the NZQA process saw her lose tens of thousands of dollars (the degree being the most expensive part), several years of her life, her pride, and her dignity.  She couldn’t face spending at least 2 more years at university to get a New Zealand equivalent degree.

Disheartened and disenfranchised, Mary quit New Zealand and returned home.

Determined not to have NZQA interfering in my life any more than I needed, I opted to go to Massey University and complete a New Zealand degree.  Massey were very understanding and helpful, and, by 2002, after 2 years of part-time study, I had completed my New Zealand degree.

This is not a process I want any of my graduates to have to undergo if I can help it, especially in light of personal issues still arising and / or present in our Christchurch-based students post-quakes.

Approximately 10% of NaSA graduates go overseas.  They should have qualifications that are easily recognised and “truly transportable” as ITEC says. They shouldn’t have the hassle Mary and I, as well as many others, have had with our qualifications.

In July 2012, providers, the Hairdressing Industry Training Organisation (HITO), NZQA and industry had a preliminary meeting about the TRoQ and the future of New Zealand qualifications. I ended up having a quite heated argument with a member of the vocal minority and the NZQA representative about international qualifications.

The vocal person does not, to my knowledge, hold any international qualifications.  Nor does she even hold New Zealand beauty therapy qualifications, as far as I recall.  But she has been very vocal in wanting international qualifications out of New Zealand, as well as making her opinion quite clear that she wants providers out of beauty therapy education.

I responded that, with about 10% of our graduates going to work overseas, international qualifications were important.  This process, I countered, is not about my ego, or her ego, or anyone’s ego; it’s about making the best system for our industry.  The story I told you here about Mary and me was relayed again.  And while the NZQA representative had a smirk on her face, I passionately drove my point home that, having been through this myself, I am using my experiences to fight for the rights of my students and my graduates.  Isn’t that what this whole exercise is for?  For industry and students and graduates to get the best opportunities to achieve, succeed, and work, no matter where in the world they choose to work?

(The NZQA representative lost the smirk, by the way, as I pointed out that “must-fit-inside-the-box” bureaucracy like their organisation is so fond of is part of the problem.)

Erica Cummings, CEO of HITO, stepped in and explained that HITO was in the process of benchmarking New Zealand qualifications (currently National Certificates in Beauty Services) against other countries’ qualifications.  Only a handful of agreements exist between New Zealand and other countries, and while I personally admire Erica and HITO for undertaking such an ambitious project that will take quite a long time and a lot of resources to complete, and even more work to maintain, I can’t help but wonder again: “Why are we reinventing the wheel?”

International governing bodies, like ITEC and CIDESCO, are already well-established in many countries around the world.  ITEC has 44 countries listed on its Web site’s homepage, and CIDESCO has 34 countries listed in its education section.  These qualifications are an industry standard in countries and areas like the United Kingdom, Australia, most (if not all) of Europe, China, Japan, and the United States, and recognition of the brands (for lack of a better word) makes this an obvious choice of qualification for graduates who want to travel with their skills.

Beauty therapy in New Zealand started by teaching from syllabuses like ITEC’s and CIDESCO’s, and these international qualification systems are deeply embedded in not only our teaching programme but also teaching programmes throughout New Zealand and the world.

We need to give our students and our graduates the best chance of success not only in New Zealand but also around the globe.  Tourists and visitors coming to New Zealand should experience the same or better beauty therapy treatment in our country.  Employers overseas should find our graduates have the same or better beauty therapy skills than their home country’s graduates.  Our graduates need to be internationally competitive in an era of increasing global migration and connectivity.

Why are some trying to move New Zealand qualifications away from the increasing trend of moving towards each other?

Keeping the Level the Same versus Reducing the Level of Training

Beauty therapy training (to make someone a fully qualified beauty therapist) is pegged at levels 4 and 5 on the NZQF. It mostly sits at level 5.  Level 5 is equivalent to the first year of a Bachelor’s Degree.

In my 17 years in the industry, this has been the status quo.  I am sure it goes back further than that.

Again, the vocal minority want this “dumbed down” to levels 3 and 4.  To be honest, for some, this all relates to funding; they are only approved for funding to level 4, and they currently offer very little beauty therapy training but want to expand into it greatly, so why not drag the whole system down to that level to suit their needs?

Catherine Wouters, our Principal, and I had an in-depth conversation about levels.  She feels that the level of training is accurate and adequate.  Quite a few concepts in anatomy and physiology – her speciality – are quite comfortable at level 5 (and, she even reckons that some of it belongs at level 6).

In our meeting on 7 April 2013, education providers and industry identified that beauty therapy should stay at levels 4 and 5, with one or more post-graduate options sitting at levels 5 and 6.  These post-graduate options will be something I’ll talk about in my next post.

Back to levels:  The New Zealand Government has made it their mandate that more young people are qualified to level 4 or above.  The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), responsible for subsidy funding, even approached us with the offer to extend our cap for the foreseeable future because the National School of Aesthetics does such a great job at meeting this mandate.

So why are we trying to “dumb down” qualifications the Government is praising us for?  Are we willing to sacrifice meeting the Government’s vision so one organisation (who currently offers little to no beauty therapy training) can try to take over training and mould it to their vision of what beauty therapy training should be?

As I keep asking, “Why are we reinventing the wheel?” Also: “If it isn’t broken, why are we trying to fix it?”

Issues like these are why your voice, as industry, students, graduates, employers, and so on, is very important throughout this process.

In my next post, I’ll talk about The Opportunities This Process Brings.

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.