Day 2: Working with your Local College
Mike Coppin (Group Spa Manager for HSH Hotels) shares what he is doing with his local colleges to attract therapists into his Spas. Mike also includes the success he has had along with some simple tips for operators.
Can you tell us why you visit your local colleges?
A few years back, we identified that applications for spa therapists were declining. On speaking with our local colleges and training institutions, it quickly became apparent that there was a diminishing amount of investment being made into the Hair and Beauty sector to aid learners progress. As a company we realised the best way to therefore effect change was to be proactive with our recruitment by offering support at college level to therapists – our future prospective employees – through product use, visits to our properties, tuition delivered in college and support with trade tests
What do you do at the college visits?
Our most popular visits involve taking one of our more experienced therapists and offering tuition in massage – focussed on injury prevention techniques for the therapist and the delivery of a consistent, firm pressure. We highlight areas for the student to focus on to aid their learning but also give them someone to aspire to be – we’ve all been students ourselves and lost with where our future lies so having an experienced therapist to ask questions and look up to massively helps. It also breaks down that nervous application barrier when they do qualify as they remember that person and who they are, how nice they are and feel more confident in putting their application forwards to work with us.
Why do you feel its important to engage with the lecturers and Students?
The industry is experiencing a real dearth of college graduates and therefore people looking to enter the workplace. Lecturers feel undervalued, under-funded and in need of help. Our visits help give them and their students something to get excited about and hopefully an end goal for their studies. We’ve offered goodwill previously to lecturers for actively involving us in their plans, such as a treatment in our spas, as it helps us give students a head start with some of our products and treatments whilst also giving the lecturer a little ‘love’.
How successful are the visits?
We’ve recruited 5 people in the last 12months off of the back of these visits – plus a further recruit who was not at the college but heard about our business from someone who was and wanted to know more. They, likewise, worried about applying to a spa through fear of rejection – all they had heard previously was ‘needs 5 years experience’ and they did not want to be turned away.
What would you say to anyone wanting to work closer with their local colleges?
Contact them! Offer your time and support! Let them lead you initially as they are stretched and struggling to meet the requirements of a packaged curriculum BUT ensure you pass on the merits of what you’re hoping to achieve. We always remind them that ideally, we want the best therapists coming to work in our spas, however, if that isn’t possible, we want to ensure that as many as possible remain in industry and HAPPY in industry!