Erica is on the Squad UK Hairdressing team. Discover how our world-class training programme has benefited her career and kept her focused during lockdown.
Erica faced major challenges during her secondary school education, “I suffered with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and was unable to go to school in year 9-10 making it hard for me to catch up on work during my GCSE year. Despite this crippling health issue she was undaunted. “With a strict regime and healthy sleep pattern I worked my way from not being able to wash my own hair, and sleeping 23 hours a day, to achieving 7 GCSEs A-C.
“After achieving higher grades than I’d expected and having a clear passion for all things hair, I decided to push my skills by going into the open scary world of working. Doing an apprenticeship was the best idea to get a great insight into working life but also still be treated as a college student as I had only just qualified in my Diploma in Women’s Hairdressing (VRQ) Level 2 which focuses on the development of a broad range of hairdressing skills, supported by theory. My tutors at Strode College supported me in my hairdressing course and I made myself stronger every year academically and physically.”
Erica was introduced to the idea of WorldSkills UK Competitions by her tutor who had entered a previous student and thought Erica would like to enter because she had a keen eye for competitions and perfection. Erica first competed in 2017 and made it through to the National Finals in 2017, held as part of WorldSkills UK LIVE, she competed in the National Finals again in 2018 and where she achieved a Highly Commended award.
It wasn’t just the pure competing that Erica benefited from,
“My favourite part of competing has been meeting new people and bettering my skills base. I’ve learned so much including perfecting skills, cleanliness and time management, to name a few.
“For anyone thinking of entering a WorldSkills Competition I’d say go for it! It’s a great opportunity to meet new people and better your skills that you didn’t even think you had.
“Covid-19 Lockdown has been challenging. I’ve been video-calling most days, often doing tests. In some respects I’ve been able to train so much more than I probably would ever had. It’s kept me focused throughout this pandemic and I honestly don’t know what I would have done it my training manager hadn’t set things in place so early on.”
Erica has an exciting journey ahead of her as she has been selected for Squad UK and is undergoing the skills set and mindset training that WorldSkills UK is renowned for, to be in the running to join Team UK in competing on the international stage. “I’m excited and nervous. Excited that I have accomplished getting to this point, but nervous as it is all so new.” Commenting on the training so far Erica says, “It’s great meeting new friends and seeing their backgrounds in the training sessions at Loughborough University and seeing the best of the best in all different skills.”
“Competing has benefited me 100%. It’s not the biggest place where I live so word travels fast. Being in papers etc, seeing my hair work out there, people now request me knowing I’m the ‘competition girl’ from my workplace. It helps build my clientele and I now run a full column of clients built up within a very short time.”
Asked what she would want educators, parents or the government to change to engage more people into apprenticeships and technical education, Erica says:
“Change the perception that ‘hairdressing is easy’. We need to educate the up and coming hair and beauty industry with positive and intellectual comments. Sometimes I feel the industry gets seen as ‘this is easy, anyone can do it, it’s not that difficult’. But when you compete in WorldSkills UK Competitions you really get to see the ins and outs of each skill and what it takes to achieve success through hard work and dedication.”