As published in Vancouver Metro.
You can snip, style and dye your way to a career in the hair industry in just 10 months at Vancouver Community College’s (VCC) hair design program — whether you just finished high school or are looking at second career options.
“Our program is a good mix of students who have one thing in common: They want to create,” says Lucy Griffith VCC’s hair design and skin and body therapy department head.
Having first offered a barbering program in the 1950s, VCC is no stranger to hair education and after a $1.8-million makeover to its facilities three years ago, which includes a training salon as well as a five-star spa that is open to the public, students are getting the type of training that gets them hired.
“The program is divided into three levels,” explains Griffith. “The first two cover all the core aspects of the industry and the final level is specifically designed for students to complete their chosen course of study. And they start cutting mannequin hair in the first week.”
After two months, once students get comfortable with their scissors and have practiced on fellow classmates, they move onto working with the public in the VCC Salon and Spa. This, says Griffith, is an opportunity for them to encounter a wide range of hair types and interact with clients. Students also complete two practicum placements to round out the program.
“I tell students to see the practicums as two-week interviews and a way to investigate how a salon operates,” says Griffith. “They may be assisting stylists or doing apprenticeship work.”
Aside from the technical aspects of the hair industry such as cutting, styling, dying, and chemical waving or relaxing, VCC students also learn the client services and business sides of the industry, including developing a marketing plan and salon development. VCC hair design grads are now eligible to take the Red Seal Certificate of Completion exam from the Industry Training Authority and can go on to challenge the practical aspect.
Due to demand, VCC is offering a third intake of the program for which prospective students can still apply.