New funding to help Fanshawe students navigate hairstylist certification

Fanshawe hair Stylist program students CREDIT: FANSHAWE COLLEGE
Fanshawe hairstyling apprentices, 2018.

Funding has been awarded to the Ontario Professional Hairstylist Association (OPHA) in order to support both hairstyling apprentices and mentors.

OPHA is an Ontario based nonprofit organization centered on supporting licensed hairstylists and apprentices, through ensuring health and safety standards, voicing industry problems to government officials, and sustaining the future of the trade.

One of the ways OPHA plans on supporting hairstylists is OPHA Connect, an online resource platform that over 35,000 Ontario hairstylists will be able to access. The program’s modules will guide mentors and apprentices through the certification process.

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Debbie Renaud, coordinator of the Hair Stylist program at Fanshawe College and one of the members of the committee behind the program, spoke on how the certification process can be unclear to students.

“We’ve tried to explain the pathways, at open houses and in class, however the process can be complicated when you are in the moment trying to navigate government websites, dealing with a mentor and trying to secure a potential employment.”

The program contains about nine hours of modules for apprentices and six hours for a mentor, divided into modules which cover topics and address scopes of practice that are covered in the training book.

“It has already laid a framework that leads to the development of an apprentice from the genesis of their apprenticeship to obtaining their Certificate as a Hairstylist in Ontario. It just takes the guesswork out of the process and gives creative outlines that guide an individual through the process.”

Hairstyling is a compulsory trade, meaning it requires government certification. In order to take the certification test, apprentices need around 3,500 hours of on the job experience. Schooling usually accounts for around 500 of that, however Fanshawe’s program gives students 1,500 of their required hours.

Renaud expressed that in the past the pathways to apprenticeship have been unclear for candidates interested in the trades and hopefully programs like OPHA Connect will clarify the process.

“Even within the Ministry, the pathway to certification is unclear. With a program like this a mentor or apprentice can enter it with each person being fully aware of the process from apprentice through to licensing.”

OPHA’s board pushed to get funding from the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development’s Skills Development Fund in order to bring the pilot program to life.

“Careers in hairstyling offer the opportunity to do meaningful and creative work in your community,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “That’s why our government is investing in innovative programs like this one at the OPHA, which will help more job seekers and young people find rewarding and well-paying work close to where they live.”

The goal is to deliver the OPHA Connect program to at least 750 people over the next nine months.

“This funding from the provincial government is a great first step and will have a very positive impact on our

industry,' Tanya Hill, the president of OPHA said. “We are very grateful for the Ontario government’s timely support and financial commitment to finding innovative solutions for the challenges faced by our industry.”