The hair and beauty sector contributes up to £283 million a year to the Welsh economy and deserves to be recognised as a priority sector, says a new report launched last night.
ISA Training, the largest independent hair and beauty training provider in Wales, with its head office in Pencoed, Bridgend, has commissioned research to get the hard facts about the sector’s importance to Wales.
Chief executive Shirley Davis-Fox, MBE, the Hair and Barber Council’s political director and board member for Wales, chose a reception at the National Assembly for Wales’ Senedd in Cardiff to launch the economic impact assessment report, which she insisted should be essential reading for politicians.
The reception, which was attended by several Assembly Members, was sponsored by Mike Hedges, AM for Swansea East and specialist awarding organisation VCTC.
“I commissioned this important research to identify and highlight the true economic value and impact of the hair and beauty sector to Wales with specific reference to the number of people employed, the businesses within local authority areas and their gross value added (GVA) contribution to the economy.
“This is the first time that a peer-reviewed economic impact assessment of the sector has been conducted, specific to a devolved administration and I am delighted that we now have the hard facts and evidence to back up our statements and to support our political engagement.
“With 2,418 businesses employing almost 11,000 people, the sector is a key employer and, unlike many service and retail sectors, it guarantees that money earned in a locality is spent and retained in Wales.
“Hair, barbering and beauty salons are the heartbeat of Welsh high streets, boosting the local economy, keeping communities alive and developing entrepreneurial skills. They provide essential services that we all need.”
Mrs Davis-Fox challenged the Welsh Government and Regional Skills Partnerships to:
- Recognise the hair and beauty sector as a priority sector;
- Commission more detailed primary research with businesses on the direct, indirect and induced impact of the sector in terms of business expenditure, GVA and employment.;
- Request the Office for National Statistics routinely publishes more detailed GVA statistics for the hair and beauty sector;
- Improve careers advice to accurately represent the realities and excellent professional opportunities available in the sector.
“Those who work in the sector have long appreciated the true value of their businesses to the economy and understand the wealth of opportunities afforded to young people entering the sector,” said Mrs Davis-Fox.
“Yet those in influential positions, who make important decisions about where to focus resources, often fail to fully appreciate the sector’s value, impact and the significant contribution it makes to the Welsh economy.
“In identifying that the GVA of the hair and beauty sector is between £189m and £283m, this research resoundingly affirms the sector’s positive economic value in Wales. It also highlights the high proportion of female entrepreneurs and large number of ambitious young people employed in this vibrant sector.
“I believe that for too long the sector has been undervalued and falsely portrayed as a low skilled apprenticeship option and low paid career choice. I am confident, that this research will address these misconceptions and earn the respect that the sector justly deserves as a professional craft leading to a lifetime of opportunities.
“The Welsh Government’s recent white paper on Wales’ transition to a new relationship with Europe highlights the increasing importance service industries are likely to play in the post-Brexit economy. This demonstrates the increasingly vital contribution sectors, such as the hair and beauty, are likely to make to future employment and prosperity in Wales.”
Gary Machin, of the Hair and Barber Council, said he hoped the “fantastic” report would help to change the outdated government perception of the skilful and vibrant hair industry.
He praised Mrs Davis-Fox’s “unwaning enthusiasm and passion” for the Hair Council’s campaign to regulate and professionalise the industry and hoped the pioneering report would lead to others for Scotland, England and Northern Ireland.