We continue to celebrate National Apprenticeship Week with this first-hand account from barbering apprentice Reece Blake. Reece, aged19, is studying a Level 2 Barbering Apprenticeship with Bolton College and working at Head Kandi, Bolton.
“Growing up, I’d always had in my head that I wanted to take on the courageous role of law enforcement officer and fight crime on the streets of Bolton. It seemed like a cool job when I was a kid, but looking back, I was way too young when I left school to know what I really wanted to do.
I enrolled on a Public Services course all the same and started my journey to becoming a policeman, but I discovered pretty quickly that there was a lot more theory involved than I’d thought, which caused me to fall behind on assignments. (Paperwork was never one of my strong points.) When I also realised that I wouldn’t be able to become a fully-fledged police officer until the age of 25, the rose-tinted image of myself in bullet proof vest and reflective jacket quickly began to fade.
Disheartened, I began browsing through what else the College had to offer, and that’s when I stumbled across barbering. Cutting other men’s hair had never occurred to me as a potential profession – why would it? I suppose I’ve always been fairly into my own looks, but I’d never considered that it could translate into a potential career. Perhaps this is somewhat down to antiquated stereotypes about men working in hairdressing; it was never a job that could render the same amount of macho respect and ‘street cred’ as a job in the police force.
But times have changed. Gender stereotypes are dissolving and men have got some great male role models in the industry; you can’t walk down a hair product aisle these days without spotting John Frieda’s ‘Frizz-Ease’ range, and it was Patrick Cameron who opened the College’s Wella Centre of Excellence.
Don’t get me wrong – I wasn’t immediately sure that barbering was for me. The leap from policing to barbering was a considerable one, but after finding out exactly what it involved, I knew it was what I wanted to do. It’s creative, practical, socially rewarding… I definitely want to follow in the footsteps of my employer and open up my own barbering shop one day. At the moment I’m looking to get some exposure in national competitions.
Barbering wasn’t an obvious career choice when I was at school, which is why I’d urge any 16-year-old to do their research, pop into their local college and explore all of the possible professions they could enter before settling on a decision. You might just be surprised.”