Continuing education is key to the future growth of the industry. So why is it not getting the attention it deserves? Have nail techs and manufacturers become disenchanted with continuing education and relegated it to the back burner?
While this approach does not take the place of a class, it is a cost-effective way to introduce nail techs to a product and entice them to try it for themselves — fulfilling one of the main goals of a manufacturer’s class. Poor class attendance is not the only reason for decreased education efforts on the part of manufacturers, however. “With the rising cost of doing trade shows and with other economic conditions, manufacturers are being forced to cut back and education is getting the brunt of it,” Tate says.
In a Perfect World
For every reason offered up for the stagnant state of continuing education, there is an idea for how to revitalize it. “There will always be people who are disenchanted with the state of the industry and this is what causes change,” says Meola. “If someone is not happy with the current situation, we all have the power to change this.”
Find something that works for you, and support it. “Some education programs are better than others,” says Fanini Randall. “I suggest that technicians seek out a company that is representative of their own beliefs and work ethics and partner with them.” Getting schools involved in promoting and emphasizing the need for continuing education is key to refocusingattention on education. “A lot of nail schools tell their students, ‘You are a nail tech and good luck.’ When they leave they think they know it all and never have to go back for more,” points out Hunter.
Nail techs need to be aware of the need for continuing education before they leave nail school. Improving communication between nail techs and distributors will increase awareness of educational opportunities. “Support from distributors for salon owners and nail techs is where change can happen,” says Caruso.
“Manufacturers are too removed. You see your rep once a week. Next time ask her about their education schedule.”
More full-day seminars would allow nail techs to fulfill their requirements more efficiently and cause less disruption to their schedules. “The International Nail Technicians Association (INTA) has found nail technicians prefer to have concentrated/intensive, full day, hands-on workshops (eight to 10 hours in length) to accommodate their busy schedules,” says Ann Higby of the INTA. Schools are a good arena in which to implement these full-day seminars. Judy Cotner, education director of Victory Beauty Systems in Clarksville, Ind., notes that, “Nail techs don’t want to take multiple classes to fulfill their hours so they go to schools that offer eight-hour long classes instead.”
Online education is another way to streamline the education process. “I would love to see continuing education offered online so that the techs who are only participating because they have to can simply do it online and free up the classrooms for interactive hands-on learning,” says Fanini Randall.
Another option is to take a different approach to continuing education and make educational events more upscale in order to convey their importance. “Nail classes should not be held in a manufacturer’s warehouse. They should not be an afterthought,” says Melissa Perry, director of the nail division at Paramount Beauty Supply in Long Island, N.Y.
Following her own advice Perry created the highly successful Nails Express Educational Symposium this year. The six-hour event was sponsored by manufacturers and was focused on giving the 125 attendees new and timely information. Held at a banquet hall, the event was purposefully intimate and there was only limited retailing on the part of the manufacturers.
“The manufacturers were given display space for their products and literature and they donated product for the goody bags that we handed out to the attendees,” says Perry.
The highlight of the event was the educational stage. “Each manufacturer was given 45 minutes to hold the stage. They were not allowed to talk about their products. They had to focus on the educational business theme.”
The Educational Symposium was a success on various levels. Nail techs enjoyed the business focus of the event and manufacturers benefited from the opportunity to interact intimately with the nail techs. Paramount Beauty has seen a dramatic increase in its class attendance since the event as well. “Nail techs were given the opportunity to sign up for education at the event. We included class information in their event folder and, if they purchased a kit at the event, the education for that system is free,” says Perry. In dramatic contrast to the current norm, they’ve oversold classes since the symposium.