Short courses in various beauty treatments can offer students a cheap and convenient way to add to their qualifications, but many fear that they are causing irreparable damage to the industry.
A full beauty qualification with a nationally recognised examination board can take a minimum of a year to complete. For those looking for a change of career or starting from scratch this is not always a viable option. Trying to fit this level of study around a full time job or a busy family can be almost impossible, and so training in individual treatments over a short period of time can be an appealing idea.
Many professional therapists have begun to worry that these short courses are damaging both to the students involved and the industry as a whole. The largest concern is that it is difficult to cover an entire treatment in any real depth over the course of a few days or less. Learning how to paint a nail, for example, is easily covered, but learning the full list of contra-indications, nail types, anatomy and physiology and aftercare will take more than an afternoon.
It now seems that many therapists are fighting against rising insurance costs, driven up by poorly qualified therapists making mistakes which lead to costly claims. As is always the case, it is the rest of us that pays for these mistakes.
Whilst there are problems with some courses, it is not fair to tar all short courses with the same brush. Many offer extra study materials that can be read and examined before attending the course, whilst others keep class sizes down to just one or two to allow for really intensive training.
On the other hand, many salon owners are finding that students straight out of college are also less than adequate. With large classes and long periods of time it becomes easy for students to slip under the radar. Some take a further education course because it sounds easy or they do not know what else to do, whilst those on a short course have often paid a lot of money to study their chosen vocation.
Neither training option is perfect, and a lot is dependent on the individual student. It is true that some poorly trained therapists are being let lose on the general public but short courses alone cannot be held responsible for this.
The accrediting bodies of the industry need to look at their procedures and standards when rubber stamping their courses. For a start, each accrediting body works to its own standards and so there is no consistency within the industry. A course that may be accepted by one may be rejected or need further guidance for another. The level of monitoring by each body also varies, as some will make regular checks that their standards are being upheld, whilst others simply charge a renewal fee. Some accrediting bodies will visit the school in question, but most do all their accrediting from a distance.
The reason behind these differences is because most of these accrediting bodies are also insurance companies. They accredit courses so that they know that any students submitting that qualification have had sufficient training to be considered low risk. As each company has a different policy, each set of accreditation criteria is also different.
The theory of accreditation is a great one but for the industry to really raise standards and keep it professional, the accrediting bodies need to work together. Only with consistency, co-operation and a lot of hard work can the industry and those who are meant to oversee it be completely safe and professional.