Hairdressing is more than just a nine to five job as Casey Coleman - artistic director at Ocean Hairdressing in Cardiff and former Gower College Swansea student - will tell you.
Casey demonstrates how the industry is much more about creativity with the opportunity for careers not only in salons, but within fashion styling and design, television and films. After working briefly in a salon, he went on to work in a call centre before returning to full time education at Gower College Swansea where his passion for hairdressing began.
“I wanted to be a fashion designer. Without going to college full time initially I wouldn’t be the stylist I am now,” said Casey.
Since then he has continued in his career, becoming a top stylist in his field, and travelling the world working with leading brands as well as at London Fashion Week and being featured in Vogue.
But core to his success has been continued development with vocational qualifications. He studied and passed NVQ Level 2 and Level 3 Hairdressing, NVQ Level 2 Barbering and NVQ Level 1 Customer Services through training provider Gower College Swansea.
His educational journey has won him a place in the final of this year’s prestigious VQ (Vocational Qualification) Awards in Wales. He is one of six finalists in the running to become VQ Learner of the Year at the showpiece awards ceremony on 9 June at St David’s Hotel, Cardiff.
Organised by the Welsh Government’s Department for Education and Skills (DfES), the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW) and CollegesWales, the VQ Awards help to showcase individuals and organisations that have raised the standard of the services they offer as a result of vocational qualifications.
The awards, which are part funded by the European Social Fund, are now in their eighth year and coincide with Vocational Qualifications Day – a UK-wide celebration of vocational qualifications for students, teachers, training providers and employers – which is held on 10 June.
“No matter where you are in your career, continued education and the ability to develop your skills is vitally important,” said Casey. “You need to keep taking courses and gaining qualifications to ensure you stay ahead of the game. You have to stay humble. Going back to college and studying while at work makes you look at everything you do and helps you to progress. Even at a director level within the salon, you need to ensure you continue training and throughout the business we promote continued progression through the use of qualifications and training.”
Bernie Wilkes, Learning Area Manager at Gower College Swansea, said: “Casey is a true inspiration to current and future hairdressing students.”
The other VQ Learner of the Year finalists are: James Pepper, 39, technical services director at Vista Retail Support Ltd, Pentwyn, Cardiff; former Bridgend College learner Michael Whippey, 23, a chief instructor at Shardeloes Farm Equestrian Centre, Amersham; Paul Wiggins, 35, from Cardiff, a chartered insurance broker at BPW Insurance Services, Newport; former Bridgend College learner Serena Torrance, 23, of Maesteg who is taking a criminology degree at Cardiff University and former Coleg Sir Gar learner Simon McCall, 21, from Capel Dewi, a self-employed carpenter and member of the WorldSkills UK Squad.
The VQ Learner the Year Award recognises learners who clearly demonstrate progression and excellence in vocational studies and have made considerable achievements in their field.
Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Julie James congratulated Casey and fellow VQ Awards finalists.
“A VQ Award is more than just an award; it’s a symbol of dedication towards your chosen profession,” she said. “Professional and personal development programmes are utilised for staff to enable them to follow a pathway of learning to meet company, customer and individual needs.
“The VQ Awards help us to celebrate those Welsh employers and learners who are already going that extra mile when it comes to developing vocational skills and qualifications.
“If the Welsh economy is to continue to grow then we must ensure that employers, individuals and the Welsh Government work together to invest in the right skills for success in order to equip Wales with a world class work force.”
Photo and PR: Duncan Foulkes Public Relations