Ohio Legislators are back at it again. For the 4th time they have introduced a bill that will gut cosmetology and barber education, reducing the number of clock hours for cosmetology from 1,500 to 1,000 and barbering from 1,800 to 1,000. They claim that this bill is designed to help women, minorities and small business owners. Of the 92,000 licensed professionals in Ohio, 68% are single-unit operations that are female owned. Thirty-Eight percent of barbers are African-Americans who own their own operations.
We are an industry of self-starters and entrepreneurs, but cutting the hours by more than a third removes critical preparation and education that ensures success. This floods the industry with under-experienced and less prepared graduates that will need guidance and continuing education in order to ensure their success. Producing graduates that are not fully prepared to enter the workforce does harm to graduates, salons/barbershops, and the industry as a whole.
THE BURDEN ON GRADUATES
Graduates who enter the industry underprepared are forced to seek out that invaluable education and experience on their own. If they work in a chair rental salon, that often means that they do not have a mentor or regimented continuing education plan necessary to get them up to speed. Graduates who go into employment based salons may have access to a mentor or even an education program, but that education is not created to the same standards as nationally accredited cosmetology and barbering schools.
Proponents of the bill also claim that reducing hours will lower student debt. In reality, a reduction in hours will actually lead to a reduction in access to Pell grants, saddling students with even more debt.
Currently a newly licensed cosmetologist in the State of Ohio can seek licensure in 30 states without the need of investing in any additional education. If SB-133 / HB-277 becomes law, that same newly licensed cosmetologist would be left with only two states (New York and Massachusetts) to transfer to without further investment in education. That means Ohio graduates would be required to invest in additional education in order to work in every single one of our neighboring states.
THE BURDEN ON SALONS
With all graduates receiving a third less education, salons and barbershops would now expected to shoulder the burden of finishing the education of the graduates. As mentioned prior, many of these salons and barbershops are small businesses that cannot afford the investment of time and money that it will take to develop an underprepared graduate into a confident, productive service provider. This puts the very businesses and entrepreneurs they claim to be helping at a significant disadvantage to the larger chains who can afford to absorb those costs.
HOW IT HURTS THE INDUSTRY
The most important thing to most service guests is consistency. That’s why we’re all so dedicated to our stylists, barbers and spa professionals. Knowing that your service provider has a solid foundation of knowledge and skills that are taught by professional educators according to a state board approved curriculum, gives guests the peace of mind when seeking out a new provider. If we cut the hours from 1500 to 1000, that means that one third of the experience and education is provided “on-the-job” without a consistent curriculum and dedicated educators.
A reduction in hours will lead to an underskilled workforce in an attempt to funnel these workers into over-franchised businesses and put the public at risk. For example, Florida (1250 hours) experiences nearly 5,000 public safety complaints per year while Ohio (1500 hours) experiences 90% less complaints.
A Cosmetology license embodies 3 licenses that can be obtained separately: hair designer (1200 hours) esthetics (600) and nail technology (200). Reducing the cosmetology license to 1000 hours would not allow all 3 disciplines to be adequately taught and would result in serious injury to the public.
LESS EDUCATION IS NOT THE ANSWER
The proponents of this bill claim that the current licensure requirements are overburdensome and that lowering hour requirements will lead to less debt. No one will argue that less debt is a bad thing, however SB-133 / HB-277 doesn’t make cosmetology education any cheaper, it simply removes a third of the education. Buying a car for 33% off seems like a great deal until you realize that the car you bought is missing a third of its parts.
Support the beauty industry and beauty professionals by making sure that education and licensure standards are not lowered in order for a few large companies to make a few more bucks. Protect my profession.