A student from Newcastle College has proven she can cut it in the hairdressing industry, taking joint first place in a national qualifier for WorldSkills UK as it was hosted on home turf for the first time this week. Sophie Roxburgh, 24, was the joint top scorer in the North East heat, along with Faye Trickett from Grimsby Institute.
Students from Newcastle College and West Lancashire College joined competitors from Grimsby Institute, Scarborough College and Hull College as they fought for a place in the WorldSkills UK hairdressing national final, due to be held in Belfast later this year.
With another three qualifiers still to take place, both winners will need to wait to find out if the points they received will be enough to make them one of the top eight scoring competitors and earn them a place in Belfast.
Sophie said: “I was really anxious about competing, I almost dropped out because I wasn’t confident with cut and colour, but my tutor was really supportive and I’m proud of myself now for coming and making it through. I feel more confident in myself, and I’m also excited about the possibility of competing in the final.”
Faye added: “I was excited to come to Newcastle and compete! It was a really good experience; everything was planned really well. I’m shocked that I won and I’m excited but nervous at the prospect of the final. I’ve never made it this far through.”
There were two stages to the competition; a long hair styling session in the morning, and a cut and colour stage in the afternoon. For each stage, the students were set a brief and were judged by a panel of industry experts, Richard Howell from L’Oréal, Robert Rousseau from WorldSkills and Christine Vokins.
Robert commented: “When I’m judging, I’m looking at creativity, style and quality. I also want to see that students are being mindful of the process, that they’re not wasting time or product or forgetting to treat their mannequin heads as if they are real clients. I was really impressed with what I saw today.”
This was the first time that Newcastle College has hosted the national qualifiers for hairdressing and the first time the competition has been held in the North East. Teaching Learning and Assessment (TLA) Coach Lindsay Gaskill has spent the last few months organising the event and added: “This competition is an incredible opportunity for our learners to compete against their peers and be judged by industry experts. We’ve got world-class facilities here; it makes sense to me that we would make the most of them in this way.”