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NAW 2017 - Interview with Laura Leigh - GC apprentice employer for 10 years

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of National Apprenticeship Week we’re catching up with Laura Leigh; an employer who has been training hairdressing apprentices in partnership with Gloucestershire College for 10 years.

Name: Laura Leigh – Director, Laura Leigh Hair and Beauty in Cheltenham

Your business has been hiring GC apprentices for 10 or more years, what value do they bring to the workplace?

We have found that by hiring apprentices it has been mutually beneficial to developing the growth of our business as well as educating and developing talented hairdressers for the industry. The apprentices at Laura Leigh are key members of the team, essential for the running of our business and enable us to provide the desired levels of customer service that our clients expect.

Once the apprentices have completed their apprenticeship, they may be offered a position within the senior team as a hairstylist or colourist, dependent on their enthusiasm, and dedication to the craft. If they are successful they will then receive continuous investment, education and encouragement throughout their careers at Laura Leigh Hair and Beauty. The development of our apprentices is key to the success and future growth of our company.

Has the number of apprentices you recruit changed over the last 10 years? If so, has it increased, decreased or stayed the same?

On average we have employed between 4-6 apprentices every year. Giving students the opportunity to earn whilst learning from some of the most talented and well respected hairdressers in our area.

In the 10 years, have you noticed any improvements in the delivery and structure of apprenticeships?

I have always been pleased with the delivery of the education provided to our apprentices. At Laura Leigh we also have our own training programme, we work together to ensure the best training and support is given to each apprentice.

What tasks do your apprentices undertake?

The main role of an apprentice at Laura Leigh is to provide and support a 5 star customer service to our clients.

The day to day duties include, meeting and greeting clients, making refreshments, we offer a concierge service to our clients so from time to time, the apprentices will fetch lunch or pay for a client’s parking. They wash and blowdry hair within the salon as well as maintain the immaculate surroundings for maximum client enjoyment and comfort.

What can your business offer apprentices?

We aim to offer our apprentices the best training possible, by combining, an NVQ qualification, a separate Laura Leigh Diploma and continuous training and education from our partners, at Loreal, Kerastase and Label M. Our apprentices also have the opportunity to assist the art team on photo shoots and location events.

Has there been a stand-out apprentice who made a particular impression, or has successfully progressed on to a career?

The existing hairdressing team at Laura Leigh have all completed their training with us and have stayed to become very talented skilled hairdressers. Nadine our technical specialist has been with us since she was 16 and is currently undertaking her LOréal colour degree, Nadine is earning a great salary and is well respected by her clients and her team.

Tom joined us at 16, 6 years ago and was thrilled to come second place in the prestigious LOréal Colour Trophy Awards last year. Tom intends to build his profile within the industry.

Over the years we have had several members of the team reach the finals of the Wella Trend Vision Awards and three finalist places in the Young Colourist of the Year Awards by LOréal. The training and encouragement they have received has enabled them to achieve things they only could have dreamed of.

One of my past apprentices is now a salon owner himself another one of our Gloucestershire College apprentices Nick Willis, is now leading the artistic team with Charles Worthington in London.

What qualities do you look for in an apprentice?

Passion, enthusiasm, dedication, and a sense of style. You can teach hairdressing but you can’t teach taste!

Do you have any advice on how an apprentice can make the most of their apprenticeship and give themselves the best chance of succeeding in your industry?

Listen. Observe. Be inspired. Work hard, give 110% everyday and you will stand out and succeed. LOVE what you do and be appreciate the knowledge and help that is being shared with you. Don’t try to run before you can walk because there is a lot to learn, even more so after you have completed your training. The best hairdressers never stop learning. There is a difference with being a passionate hairdresser who wants a career in hairdressing and there are others who do it just as a job. We only work with people who want to achieve and grow.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?


I worked as an apprentice myself and feel very lucky and privileged to have worked with some amazing hairdressers who encouraged and inspired me. I used to get two buses every morning to work and two more home in the evening. I would get home late and train on my days off, and there were plenty of times when I could have just cried and given up, but I would never let myself feel defeated. If I didn’t pick something up straight away I would keep trying; every time someone knocked me or criticised I listened and improved.


Be positive and feel lucky to have a job that you love every day. If you don’t love it, don’t do it!!!

I have been hairdressing now for 18 years and I still love it. I have never felt bored or fed up. I love my clients and I love my job! I get to work with my friends every day, listen to great music, make people happy, and earn money at the same time to buy all my shoes…what more could I want?

We have the best job in the world don’t ever forget it!!!

Why Gloucestershire College?

We have a lot of experience offering Apprenticeships and work-related training. We have industry-standard facilities and experienced teaching staff which provide the ideal complement to work-based learning.

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