Two apprentices are helping a Yarm barber to grow his business in the town.
Ben Harris, 17, and Emma Ward, 24, are both training in hairdressing techniques at Ultimate Grooming on Yarm Road, and have helped owner Anthony Andrews expand from two barber’s chairs to five.
Budding barbers Ben, from Middlesbrough and Emma, from Stillington, are studying barbering apprenticeships through Northern Skills Group – the training and apprenticeship arm of Middlesbrough College.
And entrepreneur Andrews credits the duo’s hard work as one of the key components in the growth of the business.
He explained: “I acquired the business in November last year and have built it up since – establishing a strong customer base and making sure the shop is busy.
“Ben and Emma are learning on the job, just as I did on the shop floor, watching and being mentored under the guidance of me and my brother Barney.
“The Northern Skills Group assessor Debbie visits weekly to make sure they’re on track with their skills and knowledge.
“Both are huge assets to the business. We’ve been able to grow from two chairs to five, and the momentum is really going.”
The apprentices spend one day each week at Northern Skills Group’s Middlesbrough headquarters where they learn the latest techniques at Francescos Hairdressing and Beauty Academy, a functioning salon open to the public.
Emma came to Ultimate Grooming through a work experience placement, organised by the Jobcentre Plus.
Ben, who is affectionately known as “The Blade” Harris thanks to his sharp cutting skills, is just about to complete a Level 2 apprenticeship, while Emma, who has some previous experience, is studying at Level 3.
The pair are also learning valuable lessons about enterprise as the ambitious Anthony has launched Ultimate Grooming’s own lines of hair and beard products.
Peter Wilson, director at Northern Skills Group, said: “It’s fantastic to see Ben and Emma – two apprentices – having such a positive impact in a small business like Ultimate Grooming.
“The hands-on nature of learning is essential to barbering and that’s why our apprenticeships are geared around structured learning on the salon floor.
“Ben and Emma’s training is just one example of how small businesses can benefit from apprenticeship training, and with Government incentives for SMEs there are opportunities for businesses like Ultimate Grooming to benefit financially.
“Northern Skills Group advisors regularly support business owners in identifying and capitalising on those opportunities.”