According to the UK government, there are currently over 4,000 unfilled vacancies in the British beauty sector. As previously reported by BeautyMatter, 25,000 people in the UK underwent a beauty-related apprenticeship in 2017. By 2021, this figure had dropped to below 7,000, with no recent data suggesting that this number is set to climb again. Millie Kendall OBE, CEO of the British Beauty Council, believes there is a barrier to greater awareness of the beauty industry among young people preventing them from pursuing a career in the field.
"I think that it's down to the age-old stereotype that beauty is 'fluffy stuff that girls play with," Kendall tells BeautyMatter. "Young people, their parents, careers advisors, and teachers have never seen careers in the beauty industry as the lucrative six-figure salaries that they often are; instead, jobs are often thought of as easy access and uninspirational for when young people aren't sure what career path to take."
In reality, the British beauty sector brings with it a range of profitable careers and currently supports 550,00 total jobs across media, services, STEM roles, and more. The UK Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is calling on jobseekers to consider a role in beauty and used the British Beauty Council's annual British Beauty Week celebrations to enforce its message.
"I encourage job seekers from all backgrounds to use British Beauty Week to consider a role in beauty as their next move," said Diane Whitbread, a DWP's Employer Engagement Advisor at the start of British Beauty Week. "This booming sector offers a range of exciting roles and skills development along with progression opportunities and a new sense of purpose. Our Jobcentre network can provide crucial advice to all job seekers, and my dedicated colleagues, including work coaches, stand ready to help people begin rewarding careers within this dynamic industry."
British Beauty Week featured various empowering initiatives and events, which took place at the British Beauty Council Trade Hub, located in Covent Garden. These included panels such as the Female Founders and Funding supported by Elemis, and Encouraging Diversity, Inclusivity, and Opportunity within Beauty sponsored by The GelBottle. Bobbi Brown hosted Spend an Hour With Bobbi Brown, where she provided her tips for success in the global beauty industry, and Neal's Yard Remedies taught the public how to create their own facial oil.
The week ended with the Beauty Night Out, where the council worked with various brands across Central London for an evening of beauty discovery on which brands offered late-night shopping, free products, and discounts. The council took the opportunity of British Beauty Week to announce supermodel and industry entrepreneur Kate Moss as its Global Ambassador, which it hopes will help to bring heightened awareness to its work and values.
"This year's British Beauty Week has been a huge success; it saw our industry come together and celebrate the true power of our industry in unique and collaborative ways. We had impressive engagement from across the UK Government, solidifying our influence in moving the dial and changing stereotypes in Whitehall," Kendall continues. "Brands across the UK, from Manchester to Margate, activated to offer consumers exciting opportunities that highlighted the influence of our industry for well-being and uncovered our industry's best kept secret—the people that make this huge cog turn."
Aside from British Beauty Week, the British Beauty Council inspires entry into the beauty industry through its Future Talent Programme. The program is dedicated to highlighting career pathways to young people ages 11 to 18 and offers students insight and mentorship in categories including STEM beauty careers, marketing, communications, and buying and merchandising. In its pilot phase, the activation is predicted to cover over 25,000 schools, reaching over 10,400 teachers with resources for students.
Since the Future Talent Programme kicked off at the start of the year, Kendall says there has been a great response. "There is clear excitement in our industry to support the next generation of people," she adds. "We are now in phase two of the program, which is dedicated to getting the videos into schools and in front of children via a network of Future Talent Mentors. We also plan to create more films covering the opportunities in hair and makeup, retail, and media."
The DWP is also offering aid to those who want to take the leap into a beauty profession, providing the Sector-Based Work Academy Programmes (SWAPs). SWAPs provide opportunities to learn new skills and get working experience in relevant industries. Lasting up to six weeks, the schemes involve pre-employment training, work experience with an employer in the industry, and at the end of the program, either a job interview or help with the application process. In the summer, Jobcentre Plus ran a SWAP in collaboration with L'Oréal Paris in North London for the position of Beauty Counter Advisor, and all candidates were successful in securing a role with the company.
For those already in the industry, it is easy to see the opportunities and benefits it provides.. However, for those outside, a vicious cycle of stereotypes still remains. The UK Government and the British Beauty Council's efforts are the epitome of what is needed to uplift those who perhaps have not considered a career in the sector or are not yet ready to take the step. In a wider context, the more brands and businesses that step up to the challenge and create initiatives that support career starters, the better the opportunity there is for our industry to continue to grow and do what it does best—give back to the people that serve it.
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