Why there is a shortage of skilled workers in the hairdressing trade – economy

Detlev Beier has been looking since early March. The master hairdresser has already spent more than 4,000 euros in advertising on the Internet to find new staff for his salon, on social networks like Facebook or Instagram, on portals specializing in his sector – without success. Nothing has changed for months. Now at least one trained hairstylist has reported. But Beier is currently looking for three new full-time employees. “Again, I can’t spend that much money looking for a job,” he says.

Beier, 50, has been a hairdresser for 28 years. Over four years ago he started his own business in Schondorf am Ammersee. But he has never experienced this before: “The shortage of staff in our agency has never been so serious”. He currently only has two part-time employees, although he has expanded the salon from four to ten operator positions. Beier therefore generally has to work six days a week, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. “Wanted,” he said, “is everywhere. If you can do a little something, you can immediately get a job as a hairdresser in any German city. “

People who beautify the hair of others have become rare in Germany. The Federal Employment Agency (BA) has shown since December 2016 a “bottleneck of skilled workers” for teachers. In the case of skilled workers, there are also arguments in favor of a so-called bottleneck occupation, such as increasing the vacation time, i.e. the number of days until quitting. ‘a post is filled, according to the Nuremberg authorities. It does better in the training market. According to the BA, one does not see “that the interest in the work decreases”. In July 2021, there were more than 200 unaccompanied applicants for 100 vacant corporate training positions in the professional group “body care” (almost only hairdressers). “The profession of hairdresser is still among the top 10 among young women,” said a spokesperson for the federal agency. As in many other industries, however, the number of hairdressing training contracts has dropped dramatically over the past year due to the crown. “In the hairdressing profession in particular, professional guidance, for example through internships, was hardly possible because of the confinements, and the selection processes in companies were very limited,” reports the BA.

So what is the problem? Washing and cutting hair, coloring hair or applying a perm – why aren’t there enough specialists?

Nine euros for a men’s haircut – that’s not possible, says salon owner

Herbert Gassert, 75, vice-president of the Central Association of the German Hairdressing Trade, has been a hairdresser for 60 years. He says, “There are far too few training companies. Gassert estimates that out of ten companies “maybe one will form”. For many salon owners, this is too difficult. They fear that investing in the next generation will not be worth it “because they will leave later”. The employees would not come back after the pregnancies. Young people prefer to go to school or university longer than to have a job which also includes working on Saturdays. The owner of the Beier lounge does not train either. “I don’t have time for this,” he said.

At the same time, however, the demand has increased. There were 63,000 hairdressing salons in Germany at the turn of the millennium. There are now over 80,000 of them, including many mini-companies with annual turnover of less than 22,000 euros – but it’s an open secret that many of these salons take significantly more in black. These suppliers are stepping up the already difficult price war in the industry because they don’t have to charge up to 19% VAT for their services, which annoys salon owners like Detlev Baier.

“Such low-cost providers charge nine euros for a men’s haircut in a big city, for example. If they work fast, it’s not even 30 euros an hour. No one can tell me. whether they pay the minimum wage and industry standard taxes to the employers’ liability insurance association, or they follow the legal rules of hygiene as meticulously as we do, ”he says and adds : “I pay really well, well above the rate. But I cannot pay an hourly wage of 30 to 40 euros either. It does not pay off for me.”

“It’s hard physical work. It’s exhausting”

Hairdressing is still one of the lowest paid professions in Germany. According to the tariff archives of the Institute for Economic and Social Sciences (WSI), the lowest training allowances are paid here, for example 575 euros in North Rhine-Westphalia. This is just above the legal minimum of 550 euros per month. Salaried hairdressers often do not earn much more than the legal minimum wage of 9.60 euros per hour plus tip. However, Beier doesn’t just attribute the lack of skilled workers in his industry to the not-so-lavish wages. “Many no longer want to do a job. Being a hairdresser is hard physical work. It’s exhausting.”

The owner of the salon sees him as a hairdresser: “You are passionate about it. You have it or you don’t.” Beier is convinced that the young woman who contacted him at the end of the summer has enough passion. She is now authorized to work with him on a probationary basis. “I hope everything will be fine,” he said. Nonetheless, he will continue to look for staff – and to wait.

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