Friday, 20 February 2015

The uncomfortable truth about independent education.

can't keep my mouth shut any longer

I have had a couple of days to think about what I am about to write, and be warned it may ruffle a few feathers.  After spending a day with a lovely lady on a one to one, I felt I should address some flaws I am noticing in industry education.  Previously spending a few thousand on training through independent education and private colleges, my new student had come away from them with very little knowledge and confidence in her application.  Great for me you say, well no not really, my job is to bring someone on from the basics, not to re teach them and I am not only appalled but dishearten that the industry has developed a ‘side line’ and short cut to becoming a nail technician. 

It has become an uncomfortable truth about independent education, and something I feel should be addressed. I am not alone in this opinion…..but wonder if this is the future of the industry or can we do anything to police it. 

So what does the term ‘independent educator’ actually mean. In my opinion It means that independent education is not supported by a brand, a core line of products like gel or acrylic, nor is it accredited by any insuring body. Independent education provides further education in the form of workshops to existing nail professionals only and not to beginners. 

I wonder if the title of ‘independent education’ has been taken by some and used as a licence to print money. New technicians like my student  have booked onto a workshop which does not have a governing body, no guidelines or even proper teaching training. The structure of a class is as important as the content, and the content needs to be assessed and balanced. Who does check out these independent educators offering their own certification to training the future of our industry. Who cares enough to  police and protect the new technicians  against those nail techs who think because they can provide a good salon service they can teach a good nail. 
Of course we have organisations such as The Guild, who for a fee will accredit your courses assuming you have a recognised teaching qualification, but this relies on the education provider to investing, and does this actually mean anything to that new nail tech about to venture into the world of nails. 

My journey within the industry started 15 years ago and has not been without its highs and lows, I have gone through the ranks, from starting out as a mobile tech to running a salon and then owning one. I have educated for brands, travelled for brands and even educated in colleges, in fact I still do, but with a different hat on. I have done my teacher training, completed my NVQ twice and added to my CPD portfolio (continued personnel development) each year.  I did carved my own job role as it is today in nails, as there wasn’t one already in place, and this role many aspire  to have also, of course why not it is a great job.  It took all of those 15 years and a lot of hard work and training to get here.  Where I am today was not a quick fix!  Being in the position of an educator and offering Independent training was not done so on a whim, or without planning.  It was not something I did right from college or because I can’t be arsed to do nails anymore. 

As a mentor and ambassador I get many emails and messages from techs who have just qualified asking me how to get into education and looking for different avenues within the industry;  my response to them, is why do you want to educate, why do you want to run before you can walk? Surely you need to pay your dues as a nail tech first, isn’t that why you joined this profession in the first place? Why is it that men and women do not want to perfect their craft before sharing it with others, why are we hell bent on getting to the top, without building and honing our own skills. 

There are many different roles within this industry from session technicians like Michelle Class and Marion Newman to college lecturers like Shelly Lee at South Devon College. Then you have educators which work in the private sector with brands which hold a core line, like CND, IBD and Crystal nails.  You work for your self  when you work with these brands and build your own education academy under the umbrella of a brands logo or name. But they give you the in-depth training, skill building and application advise you could never receive without being part of a great education team. These brands have a vested interest in making you the best you can be, and they encourage ambition and drive.   The different directions nail professionals take within the industry requires hard work, effort, new learning and investment, it is not easy, certainly harder than doing nails all day, just an FYI if you think otherwise. 

In my humble opinion the label of 'Independent educator' should go to those nail technicians with a specific skill set which will take those nail professionals with some experience and who have learnt the basics to the next level. Independent educators fill a gap in the market to improve skills and develop.
Independent or private education, unless accredited should not provide education to new nail professionals, beginners in their field who do not have the proper understanding of application.  How can one educate a beginner without any formal training in education, have the experience in working for various brands and even have the backing of a core line, I mean what on earth are they going to be teaching with. Another point to realise is that they are basing the education they providing on that which they learnt. The questions should be; where was this, when was this and by whom?  How many bad habits are passed on to the unsuspecting newbie. 

I am generalising here, and will probably get some back lash from this blog post, I am not talking about those nail professionals who have done their time teaching professionally for brands or within colleges, who have got they're teaching certificates and have a wide range of experience in all areas of nail application. Nor am I including those private colleges and private educators who have launched their own academies and training solutions on the back of their time as a brand educator or college lecturer.  Who have taken the steps to educate themselves and create a business with the correct qualifications to teach. 

I am warning those out there, to check who is training you, if you are starting on the nail road, who has given them the licence to teach you.  We talk about non standard salons every day, what about non standard education?