While talking to Annu Wadhwa, CEO, Beauty and Wellness Sector Skill Council (B&WSSC), you will be doubly convinced that beauty is definitely not skin deep! In this Skill Talk, she gives a detailed account of practical difficulties faced by B&W enthusiasts and makes timely recommendations on setting high quality standards in training. This is essential to get professional respect and recognition and create sustainable entrepreneurship models in this space. Let’s read on . . .
Exciting time for Beauty and Wellness industry
Let me start with how the B&W industry is growing and what is the requirement in terms of quality skilled human resources. You’ll be surprised to know that Indian B&W industry constitutes only 0.5 % of the global industry (KPMG Study in 2013). By 2022, in India itself there will be an incremental demand for 10.06 million skilled manpower, so you can imagine what the global demand could be. It’s scary because we need people, and even if people are there, where is the quality. How do we meet this demand?
Need for Quality Training
We are one of the industries after Health industry, where the quality of training and manpower has to be really good. Otherwise, you are putting at stake the lives of millions of consumers who go to salons or avail home services. There is an element of risk if the services don’t meet quality standards. So, the biggest challenge we are facing today is the shortage and paucity of quality skilled manpower.
Suppose you visit a salon, and the person who’s treating you is not qualified and not trained properly, you could be risking your life. Even someone doing manicure and pedicure, if they don’t understand the value of hygiene, sterilization and sanitation, it could be risky, it’s very important to cater to the quality standards that are getting disseminated across India.
This is the basic mandate for as a sector skill council that we need to create standards and we need to have details of every job role for which the training is being conducted. And we need to insist and monitor all the training companies to train people as per the requirements, not in terms of what they are expected to know, skillsets, competencies and technical knowledge, but also simple things like soft skills, sterilization, sanitation, hygiene are also looked after.
Challenges in the Beauty and Wellness Sector
Other challenges include attrition, wage disparity, exploitation – not just of the employee but employer, because of shortage of quality manpower. The employer is under constant worry about losing his or her staff, because others are ready to poach. And the employees are ready to skip and hop organizations, for something as small as an increment of Rs 500. In the service industry, the people, the consumer, mostly develop a rapport with, the person and talent. For instance, if your hairstylist is moving from one organization to another, you also move along with her because of the treatment and rapport you’ve developed with her.
We also need to address the issue of social stigma attached to certain professions. Our industry does not get due respect, people don’t like to be called Hair Stylists and Beautician. From the parents perspective too, B& W is not an intentional career choice for their kids. It could be the last choice when the students are not able to get through, it could be pursued as a hobby. In fact, they can make a career out of it, and honestly do much better than engineers and lawyers today, if you are skilled enough.
Standards and Certification
We’ve created the national standards with the help of the industry, and they are ready to hire sector skill council certified staff, we are pushing for global acceptance of our certification. With the industry and government backing us, and if it becomes mandatory to hire SSC certified staff, this puts an end all the small time academies that are making money without quality in their training.
This has to be a movement and it has to be done collectively by the industry.
All the major players of Beauty Industry are a part of our Governing and general Body of SSC- our chairperson is Ms Vandana Luthra and we have the likes of Dr Blossom Kocchar, Dr Sangeeta Chauhan, Mr Javed Habib and various industry leaders and associations – we’ve got the who’s who of Beauty industry on board. And if they are validating, accepting and endorsing what we’ve created it makes implementation of the standard easier on the field level for us. This is just a tip of the iceberg, but well-begun is half done.
Not many people take up beauty as a professions, it a not conscious career choice. Earlier, there was nothing called a career path, and growth indicators. We’ve created career paths, shown them clarity through sector mobility and industry mobility.
Moreover, the Sector Skill Council Certificates has been recognized as the highest certifying body by the Government of India. We are bringing awareness among people about recognition of skills from an authorized body. We are trying to push this for the paid courses as well as reward schemes.
How this profession supports women
When a woman starts earning, even if the amount is small, her level in the family gets elevated. We do a lot of career counselling, we make them understand that it’s not necessary for a women to be working full time, in Beauty and Wellness industry they can even work part time, it can help them balance their time for family and profession.
We are also tying up with banks to help women with financial assistance to set up their own salon, so that they can become entrepreneurs. 70% of the industry is unorganized and the largest probability of becoming an entrepreneur exists in our industry. So there are multiple options for women – part time employment, entrepreneurship and the SSC is ready to handhold the women.
Beauty and fashion has always existed in rural India. Years ago, rural women used to wear tattoos, in metros they are a recent phenomenon, in villages it has existed since ages! In villages we are proposing multi-tasking job roles, for example, at the entry level, Assistant Beauty Therapist, we have included not just cleansing and skin treatment, but also manicure, pedicure, a bit of makeup & henna services – it equips them to start earning, and for successful candidates we are helping through bank loans to get Make Up kits and Hair care kits that can equip them to take off.
Through our training partners we are trying to make crèches available. This will help women who have small kids; they can bring them along to the training center. There’s a sense of security that the child is taken care of. Facilities and support systems are important to bring many women to this profession and help them continue and grow. I see many positive trends in this direction and I’m sure Beauty and Wellness careers will become preferred choice of more women!