The first graduates to complete a hairdressing course at Christchurch Women’s Prison are looking forward to their future careers.
The course is a 12 week Level 2 HITO (Hair and Beauty Industry Training Organisation) Introduction to Hairdressing. Tutor Penny Hawker is a practising hairdresser herself, and says there is a lot involved in being a good hairdresser and this course is a great introduction to hairdressing and will open doors to a future career for the women.
“The salon-based course gives participants a taste of what working in the hairdressing industry can really be like and helps prepare them for further training and employment in a salon,” she says.
“The majority of our women are mothers and a qualification in hairdressing will give them good transferable work skills and full time and part time employment and career opportunities on release.”
In the practical setting of the salon, the women learn basic hairdressing skills; such as shampooing, conditioning treatments with massage techniques, blow drying and straightening hair.
“Through the course and their practical experiences, the women also develop their self-esteem and confidence to converse with others,” she says. “They build confidence and develop the softer skills of hairdressing; learning how to talk with customers, choose appropriate topics to discuss, being aware of customers' body language, and also the personal presentation and expectations of a salon assistant.”
On release, both graduates are keen to continue with the Level 3 Hairdressing course (the equivalent of a year 1 apprenticeship) within the industry.
Penny says neither of the women would have been ready to study the course at Level 3, so completing the Level 2 course has given them the skills and opportunity to do so.
At the opening of the salon in March 2020, HITO Chief Executive Kay Nelson talked about the opportunities for women in the hairdressing industry. “We are an industry screaming out for good employees,” she said. “We are also an industry that likes to train on the job, which enables people to earn as they learn and work around other commitments. As the single most successful industry for ownership by women, the sky really is the limit.”
The salon and programme are the result of a two-year partnership between Corrections and the HITO.
“The HITO partnership and the prison’s purpose-built salon are essential to the women’s training, experience and future opportunities,” she says. “Working alongside the HITO means the women will have connections with the industry and people working in that industry, and the industry can be confident in the quality of their training.”
The next class will start soon and, at this stage, will have six women.
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Instructors (Kaiwhakaako) work with offenders in prison to help them gain new skills and qualifications to improve their chances of finding real jobs when they’re released. Instructors teach both in the classroom and on the job. They oversee offenders' work and assess their skills in a professional manner.
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Penny presents a graduation certificate.