In a first for Moss Vale, a number of high school students are combining hairdressing at TAFE NSW with their school studies for a head start in their chosen career.
With more than 20 hairdressing salons in the Southern Highlands, TAFE NSW Moss Vale is offering the program to budding hairdressers to help build the workforce of the future.
Hairdressing teacher Mark Cole said the course built a pipeline of new apprentices for the growing sector in the region.
"I maintain relationships with salon owners who want to employ graduates and more owners are frequently asking if we have graduates ready to start an apprenticeship," Mr Cole said.
The course enables the students to gain an accredited certificate, as well as the skills and experience to be work-ready in the hairdressing industry, while completing their high school studies.
"Six of the units the students are learning go directly toward their Certificate III in Hairdressing. This will mean the students can be qualified and earning more money faster. The skills and experience will also give them an edge in job interviews over other school leavers," Mr Cole said.
Every Tuesday the group of high school students undertake work placement at the TAFE Moss Vale hairdressing training salon.
Thirlmere High School student Kaylee Blunden has worked part-time in a salon and said it's the industry she wanted to be employed in.
"Why not get started with my future while I'm still at school? By the time I'm 18 or 19 I could be a qualified hairdresser," she said.
La Halo Hair owner Jade Webster said "school students making a start on their apprenticeship was a fabulous idea".
"As a business owner, it makes life so much easier to employ a trainee who can hit the ground running when they start," Ms Webster said.
"At TAFE NSW students get experience so when they when they finish school and come on as a first year apprentice they will already know the basics."
Ms Webster employs a second-year TAFE NSW apprentice who is taking part in flexible salon-based training.
"My apprentice's TAFE teacher Mark will call in regularly and go through what she has been doing and work with her on any sticking points; this means my apprentice can be contributing in the salon more often," she said.
Freedom Hair Design owner Debbie Hills employs five apprentices at her Bowral salon. She said the industry was growing and offered a rewarding career for people who were passionate about hairdressing and styling.
Her apprentices undertake a mix of work-based and campus-based training through TAFE NSW.
"From a business point-of-view the flexibility of having staff train in the salon is excellent. The more hands on deck the better," Debbie said.
"We have a real mix of clientele which means my apprentices can benefit from that variety while training in the salon."
For more information about studying at TAFE NSW or for information about how TAFE Enterprise can create flexible training for your business visit www.tafensw.edu.au or phone 131 601.