WorldSkills UK Training Manager Linzi Weare tells us how the Hairdressing Squad for WorldSkills Shanghai 2021 is finding creative ways to train to overcome the challenges of training hairdressers during the coronavirus pandemic.
When the announcement came that salons and colleges across the UK were to shut due to the coronavirus outbreak, I found myself – like all other stylists – unable to go to work, but also unable to train the UK Hairdressing Squad for the WorldSkills Competition.
The UK has a strong track record at WorldSkills, which is known as the ‘Skills Olympics’, with Concept Hair’s Learner of the Month Phoebe Mclavy winning the Bronze Medal last year in Russia. I knew that any break in training would be disastrous and could mean the difference between winning and losing a medal at WorldSkills Shanghai next year.
I was determined that despite the challenges the hair industry is currently facing, I would do whatever it takes to continue training.
Introducing the WorldSkills UK Hairdressing Squad
Making up the UK Hairdressing Squad are three extremely talented young stylists: Erica Czerny who attends Strode College, Ellie Mumby from Grimsby Institute and Shane Powell who attends Coleg Gwent. They were selected for Squad UK after excelling in the National Finals at WorldSkills UK LIVE last year.
Back in training with the Squad is Phoebe McLavy, who works at Reds Hair, and will represent the UK at EuroSkills Graz in January.
At WorldSkills, competitors are expected to complete a series of tests over four days which cover methods as varied as bridal hair, re-creating specific styles, catwalk, colour matching and barbering.
They are tested on their creative skills, drawing on techniques from around the world, and on areas that are important in the workplace including health and safety, problem solving and management of materials.
Incorporating all these different areas, the WorldSkills training that I and my training team deliver focuses on building on the knowledge that Erica, Ellie and Shane learn as part of their apprenticeship, taking their skills to the world-class standard.
Taking training online
In usual circumstances, we would train in salons and colleges throughout the UK and internationally. The challenge I faced was how to deliver this training remotely.
It was first important to confirm all my squad had access to laptops and tablets. Once I had established this, WorldSkills UK delivered mannequins and colour kits to each of them, so no-one was at a disadvantage.
I then set up daily Zoom calls with my training team and the squad. During these sessions we demonstrate specific tasks, for example creating a gradient bob, which the squad then replicate.
Just like at WorldSkills, they have 15 minutes to plan and set up their workstations and we observe as they complete the task. This allows us to give immediate feedback, which they have all said is invaluable.
I am aware that like many working in our industry my squad members are facing uncertainty around their apprenticeship and employment. To help support all those in Squad UK, WorldSkills UK has moved its ‘Mindset Bootcamps’ online.
Taking lessons from elite sport, these sessions deliver performance psychology and physiological wellbeing sessions to help Squad UK create ‘medal-winning’ mindsets and cope with the challenges they are currently facing.
Taking inspiration from Squad UK
Watching my Squad adapt and complete their training with so much enthusiasm has helped me remain positive in supporting my colleagues at Reds Hair. We have been increasing our presence on social media and e-marketing to provide tips to our clients on how to look after their beauty and hair needs.
Our training for WorldSkills is not what I initially planned, but like all industry trainers we have risen to the challenge. I am confident that despite new ways of training, Team UK will deliver a performance on the international stage that we as an industry can all be proud of
Find out more about the WorldSkills squad here.