Professional Beauty held a focus group where 40 people in the sector, mainly salon owners, highlighted the need for a regulatory body to control the high number of unqualified therapists flooding the industry.
Said one of the focus group participants: “Our industry will always have challenges unless we create a licensing structure for therapists and implement proper regulations.”
Another industry professional added: “This issue is really complex as some employers hire unqualified therapists to avoid costs. There is also the serious problem of unemployment in South Africa – some of these unqualified people that we are complaining about are supporting families so we can’t take away their bread and butter.”
Said a focus group participant: “Because there is no regulation in the industry, this makes challenges in the informal sector even greater, as someone who sells shoes one day can open a salon the next day.”
Menna Kleine, newly elected co-vice president of SAAHSP (Professional Body for the Skin, Body & Nail Care Industry), said that it was the aim of SAAHSP to become a statutory body that could regulate the industry.
“However, to do that, we need buy-in from more salon owners and therapists in terms of becoming members of SAAHSP so that we can be fully representative of the industry,” she said.
The question of whether it was possible to have a rating system for salons came up. Kleine pointed out that SAAHSP does has both SAAHSP and CIDESCO rating systems for salons that are members but that to date, only a small percentage of salons are SAAHSP members.
“Again this brings us to the issue of numbers – for SAAHSP to try and become a statutory body that could regulate the industry, we need numbers in terms of members,” stated Kleine. “We can’t go and stand in front of parliament when our membership represents only a small percentage of the industry.”
One of the focus group participants who is involved in recruitment noted that there is a big misconception among graduates who don’t understand qualifications. “They don’t seem to know the difference between a Certificate of Attendance, a Certificate of Qualification and a certificate from a product house training course.”
The owner of a training institute added: “Trainees also don’t understand about whether a college is accredited or not. It is illegal to hand out a certificate if it’s not from an accredited training provider. Similarly, it is illegal to practise as a therapist if you don’t have a qualification from an accredited provider.”
Another participant said the industry should monitor the flood of one-day and/or one-week training courses that are mushrooming all over the country.
One of the participants who is trained in all aspects of beauty and has a chair in a hair salon where she performs nail services, said: “I see people popping up all over the place and doing nails for much cheaper. Another problem is the bogus products these people are using – where do they come from?”
As one focus group participant pointed out, there is a big problem with those suppliers of equipment who supply non-qualified therapists.
There was a general consensus that suppliers should only open accounts for customers who they vet to ensure they are properly trained and qualified.
As brought up in the previous recent Professional Beauty Focus Group held on 4 November, aesthetic devices that may not be FDA-approved or have CE certification are freely available to purchase on the internet by anyone.
One supplier made there point that there was insufficient regulation around imports and no monitoring of whom devices are sold to.
“Government regulation is key in ensuring compliance,” said an industry professional.
Another supplier continued: “There are those salon owners who operate under the radar. A person tries to ‘milk’ the maximum income without registering a formal Sole Proprietorship or Pty Ltd and are thus not on the SARS radar. If we as suppliers could begin to sift at this level and assume that a person who does not make their business official is probably not worried about registering it.”
Questions were raised during the focus group about whether the National Bargaining Council for Hairdressing, Cosmetology, Beauty & Skincare (HCSBC) was involved in regulating the industry. Prior to the focus group, Professional Beauty did extend an invite to a senior member of the Council who was keen to attend but unable to due to a scheduling conflict. This executive did say, though, that the Council’s role is not to enforce the industry but rather to enforce conditions of employment. (Report by Joanna Sterkowicz)
If you would like to participate in any of Professional Beauty’s upcoming focus groups, please email email@example.com