Sandy Chong - Australian Hairdressing CouncilSandy Chong

Chief Executive Officer, Australian Hairdressing Council

As a hairdressing salon owner for 35 years, Sandy has employed hundreds of graduate hairdressers, and seen many changes – both good and bad – to the training system. As the CEO of the national peak body she has also had a lot of involvement in the way that education and training providers across the whole country are designing and delivering their courses.

“Change is permanent in hairdressing. It’s really important that students are getting the very best and latest education and training from industry current, and up to date teachers. Like many other industries, we need graduates that are not just highly skilled, but also have the confidence to walk into a salon and deal directly with customers”, says Sandy. “Sadly, that’s not always the case.”

Sandy also feels that it’s important for the education and training system to remain flexible and aware of what employers might need, rather than having fixed curricula that don’t always meet market needs. “For example, I am part of the ‘Sustainable Salons’ movement which was set up to minimise the waste that comes out of the hairdressing industry. We want to ensure that the products and processes we use are as sustainable as possible, and so we need training graduates that come to us with knowledge about this aspect of the business”.

Just like other trades and professions, hairdressing continues to evolve and continues to ask more of its junior and more senior staff. Sandy sees the Victorian review of the post-secondary education and training system as critical to ensuring that the whole industry continues to thrive, and also to fill the chronic shortage of trained hairdressers that has been ongoing for more than 20 years.

“Pardon the pun, but hairdressing is a growth industry” says Sandy, “with a growing population and customers always wanting to try the latest styles and treatments. We welcome a review that is seriously looking for input from industry into the future of the training system – and I hope the government takes on board the input that they get from those who are literally running the small businesses that employ every single one of the graduates that come out of Victorian courses.”