When 20 year old Cobbitty resident Alicia Marshall was told she couldn’t be a hairdresser without a Hazmat suit due to an allergy, she thought her hairdressing dream was over – until she found a lifeline in a new apprenticeship program with the Just Cuts Narellan salon she used to visit as a child.

“I’ve always had a passion for hairdressing because I love being creative and I’m a people person,” said Alicia.

“But I couldn’t touch any colouring products, toners or bleach and my reaction was like a chemical burn that got worse over time.”

Tests confirmed that Alicia had an allergy to paraphenylenediamine (PPD), a common ingredient in hair dye and a known irritant and she was given two options: change careers or wear a Hazmat suit to work.

Alicia’s mother Leeann suggested she go to Just Cuts Narellan, the salon where Alicia had her hair cut during school, as the salon does not do colouring services.

Just Cuts Narellan Salon owner of 17 years, Anna Duric, said she jumped at the opportunity to employ an apprentice like Alicia as recruitment remains a persistent challenge in the industry.

“Alicia’s been shampooing clients regularly and has started learning how to do straight styles and buzz cuts, she’s such an asset for us here in the salon and a very talented young lady,” said Anna.

“For more complex concave bobs she just observes and the girls talk her through it step by step.”

Earlier this month Just Cuts Narellan beat out over 190 Australian salons to take home the national award for customer service. Anna said the streamlined Just Cuts apprenticeship, which incorporates barbering and hairdressing, is essential to train the next generation in the latest styles and how to communicate with clients.

“Australia continues to suffer from a hairdressing shortage, my generation of hairdressers are almost ready to retire. When Alicia came to us we jumped at the chance to have her,” Anna said.

To ensure apprentices are job-ready the Just Cuts apprenticeship is run by experienced educators from both salon and barber backgrounds. Part-time and full-time paid apprenticeships are available providing practical, hands-on learning in a dynamic Just Cut salon environment.

“The Stylists are so experienced and so supportive and they push me to better every day, the salon I used to work out had so many young apprentices but I’m the youngest here,” said Alicia. “My advice to other young jobseekers is that when you face obstacles don’t give up on your dreams.”

The apprenticeship is fully funded in New South Wales and Queensland for under 25s. Just Cuts employs over 2,500 Stylists in 190 salons across Australia, and there are multiple apprenticeship positions currently available.

To sign up to the Just Cuts salon Apprenticeship Program, or for more information, click here