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The beauty industry needs help now to support its future workforce

3 min read

Closures of training schools during the pandemic and limited opportunities to gain workplace experience means that the number of newly qualified professionals entering jobs in the beauty industry is significantly lower than normal.

Our beauty and wellbeing sector and its workforce is invaluable. It delivers vital services which boost wellbeing, provides jobs across the UK and contributes greatly to the UK economy.

As co-chair of the APPG on Beauty, Aesthetics and Wellbeing, I have heard first-hand how difficult the pandemic has been on the sector and the devastating impact it has had on businesses and the workforce. As restrictions begin to ease, the industry needs support and the APPG has already launched an inquiry to look at post-Covid recovery for the sector; how businesses can recoup their losses and how the highly skilled workforce can be retained.

A recent report from the National Hair and Beauty Federation on the fate of the industry, estimated that by the end of this year businesses will have, on average, lost out on £40,000 of revenue.  This has ultimately led to job losses and employment in the industry is now down by 21% compared to pre-pandemic levels.

The future of this industry hangs in the balance

On average, the industry was closed for 250 days during lockdown periods.  Figures from the UK Government Covid-19 Response guidance published in February show that prior to the pandemic, the industry supported more than 560,000 people’s jobs - 85% of which were women, many working flexibly.

Even now that businesses are able to re-open, continued restrictions mean that many are still struggling.  Large events, weddings and holidays being scaled back or cancelled has caused a huge deficit in demand and at the same time salons are still operating at just 70% capacity in order to maintain social distancing requirements.

The impact of the pandemic is also having a knock-on effect on the next generation of the workforce too. Closures of training schools during the pandemic and limited opportunities to gain workplace experience means that the number of newly qualified professionals entering these jobs is significantly lower than normal.  Recent data from the National Hair and Beauty Federation paints an equally bleak picture going forward with only 11% of salons planning to recruit new apprentices in the next 3-6 months.

The industry needs to be promoted to encourage young people to follow this career path so that we can ensure going forward we have a full and flourishing skills base.  Beauty and wellbeing practitioners play a vital role in supporting our physical and mental health too. Many people use these treatments as part of their care and figures from the Federation of Holistic Therapists 2021 Members Survey show that 75% of practitioners have clients who are using their treatments to support long term health conditions, and 63% have clients who use them as preventative to poor health. 

As we begin to emerge from restrictions, the future of this industry hangs in the balance.  And key to its survival is its workforce. The industry needs help now, more than ever, to ensure it can support jobs, provide a much-needed wellbeing boost to its customers, and once again be key contributor to the UK economy.


Carolyn Harris is the Labour MP for Swansea East and co-chair of the APPG on Beauty, Aesthetics and Wellbeing.

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