The hair, beauty and fitness industries are among those to have suffered the greatest hardship during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the knock-on effect of the sector’s woes is being felt by training providers who specialise in upskilling individuals to work within these industries. One such provider in Greater Manchester’s Vita Skills, a leading specialist in delivering first class training courses for the beauty, children and youth work, and fitness industries.
Vita Skills managing director Emma Ridgeway was invited onto our leadership podcast to offer some insight as to how the changing landscape had had an immediate impact on the business, and it became very clear that some of the changes would not merely function as a short-term solution, but perhaps a longer lasting one.
Lifting the lid on the initial steps that Vita Skills was forced to take, Ridgeway said: “Covid affected us massively from the very beginning and like everyone else in the country we had to close our doors in March for the initial lockdown. We teach a lot of the unemployed who are looking to upskill and get back into work, and the pandemic had an impact on our sign-ups and our ability to enroll people because we are not able to have people in our teaching centre under safety guidelines. There was an immediate influx in PPE demand, which was both difficult to acquire and quickly became more costly, so financially it has been a challenge for us as well as from an intake perspective.”
As a means of getting around the challenge of its physical premises having to close, Ridgeway revealed that an online learning platform had been launched as a new way of allowing students to enrol onto courses and enable them to pursue careers in the industries that Vita Skills caters for.
Ridgeway explained: “Courses will remain online only until social distancing restrictions are no longer required and it is recommended we reopen. We don’t have the same luxuries as other training providers in being able to open physical premises because we work in training people in close contact roles. We have been cracking on with online enrolment and been providing kits via post to all new students.”
When asked about what the long-term impact of Covid is likely to mean for the industries that Vita Skills serves, Ridgeway candidly admitted that these sectors will be required to change the way that they function to enhance client safety and in order to become fully certified to continue operating, businesses will have to train-up through new safety courses, which Vita itself will be in a position to provide.
“From my experience so far, high-contact industries like the beauty sector are going down the PPE route. What is happening, which has been of help to us, is that the government has introduced a new qualification in infection control that all these sectors must have and we are in a position where we can provide the training courses for that to allow the industry to carry on operating.
“Therefore, we have been in the process of becoming a fully registered centre across all the industries we serve to teach the relevant safety courses and benefit ourselves and our clients. This includes the hair and beauty industries and the fitness sector. It will be funded either by government, or at a small cost to the individual taking the course in the form of administration fees. For new students training up in the sectors we typically serve, we will integrate the relevant safety learning into these courses to make sure that they are fully certified upon completion of the course and we uphold good practice and help workplaces remain as safe as possible.”