Skills & Sustainability – Hairdressing

Hairdressing guru, Norman Ironside, judges the "Men's Perm" task of the hairdressing category of the National 2008 WorldSkills Competition as he inspires apprentices and promoties environmentally sound practices such as enviro-friendly perming.

Hairdressers are making steps to improve the environmental sustainability of their industry. Perming is an old technique that can be used to demonstrate new ways to save the environment and Norman shares what these steps are.

About Hairdressing at WorldSkills:

There are 22 competitors in the Hairdressing category. The Chief Judge and hairdressing convenor have designed the tasks to meet the standards in line with international competition.

There is one overall gold medallist for Sydney WorldSkills who must be under the age of 21 and must be under 22 by the time they compete at Calgary WorldSkillls in 2009. Hairdressers bring all their own tool kit including scissors, combs, and brushes.

The competition supplies perm papers, towels, work stations, clamps, trolleys, stools, the whole competition space will look like a big salon.

Day 1- task 1, Competitors must use the technique of perming to create a hairstyle on a male mannequin. The competitors must treat the mannequin just like a real person and the event organisors use mannequins to ensure an even playing field for all entrants.

Using the perming technique, competitors create and design a hairstyle for a man sticking to the specific time constraints of the task, 2- 2 1/5 hours. Environmental sustainability is very important to the hairdressing industry because it is notoriously un-environmentally friendly and that has to change.

There are three floor judges and part of their job is to keep an eye on sustainability issues.

Some things hairdressers can do are-

Reduce towel use- re-use and recycle; lessen the need to wash towels, therefore saving water, lessen hair dye, peroxides, perming chemicals, materials waste, reduce the use of ammonia, reduce water wastage- don’t have taps just running, re-cycle foils Every little bit helps

About Norman:

Norman Ironside from ‘Soignee Hair Dressing’- Richmond is a very famous and well-regarded exponent of the hairdressing industry. His passion for hair has seen him win ‘Australian Hairdresser of the Year’ three times.

He was a gold medallist in the European Hair Cutting Championships and has twice been the Hairdressing Coach of the Australian team in the World Hairdressing Championships.

In 2005 his industry colleagues voted and inducted him into the ‘Australian Hairdressers Hall of Fame’. He has been a teacher internationally and recently judged the ‘Miss World Australia’ competition. At ‘Soignee hair Dressing’ he employs sustainable measures like using low voltage light globes and all of his appliances in the salon have the most energy efficient star rating.

In the ‘Men’s Perm’ task, Norman will be looking for speed, minimum use of resources (water) and efficiency of product use (chemicals).

Although Norman is not a big fan of perming, he does believe it is “one of our skills” and all apprentices must be able to perform all techniques and skills involved in hairdressing. Apprentices must be tested on every facet of their profession and they must be able to execute the techniques well.

Norman is involved with WorldSkills because he recognises the shortage of hairdressers in this country. He believes that there has been too much focus on tertiary education and not enough attention given to trades. Without trades he says, “There will be no buildings and no footpaths”.

WorldSkills offers tradesman a way of achieving excellence in their profession. He says “the pressure of competition, makes people more efficient and accelerates the learning process…..they can achieve an excellent result in minimum time.” There are no second chances and that more often than not; competition brings out the best in people.

Norman employees three apprentices at his salon, which will be closed during WorldSkills because all his staff will be volunteering at the event.

Norman is a hairdressing crusader and is disappointed that there is a perception out there that people only become hairdressers when they can’t do anything else. He says there are practical and technical skills to being a hairdresser as well as psychological skills.

Hairdressers must be good listeners, ‘sounding board’ for all types of people and this skill you must learn on the job not from a mannequin!

VJ Lucy Nash