Become a qualified hairdressing and beauty professional with part-time courses

Truro and Penwith College offer a complete range of part time hairdressing and beauty courses that fit around your current work or family commitments. We talk to Hayley McKinstry, Programme Team Leader for hairdressing, beauty therapy, hospitality and catering at Truro and Penwith College, and WorldSkills Judge of 12 years, to find out more about this fantastic range of courses.

Hayley McKinstry, Programme Team Leader for hairdressing, beauty therapy, hospitality and catering at Truro and Penwith College, and WorldSkills Judge of 12 years.

What part-time options do you have available for someone looking to work in the hairdressing and beauty sector?

All of our part-time courses are intensive, delivered over a 12-month period to ensure our part-time students can become qualified within a year and have the same opportunities as those studying full-time courses. Lessons are designed to take place within school hours, in the evenings and at weekends to fit around work and family commitments.

We offer two pathways at the College, beauty and hairdressing. Part-time hairdressing students will study Level 2 in Year One, and Level 3 in Year Two, beauty students study Level 2 in Year One and then have a choice of areas to specialise in, in Year Two. Options include nail services, beauty (which covers massage, facials and microdermabrasion etc) or special effects and media make-up (make up for film and theatre).

An advantage to studying here is that students have the benefit of training from other areas throughout the College. We give all students a week off from their timetable to study something they feel will help them in the world of work. Those looking to gain employment often choose other popular treatments that fall outside of their course to make them more employable such as individual lashes, or a skill employers will find valuable such as first aid. Students looking to start their own business opt for business and financial planning to help them operate a smooth enterprise.

Is it possible to become qualified to work in the industry in less than two years?

Yes, the College is now offering a new programme in nail services that will allow students to gain their level 2 and 3 qualification, and work in the industry within just 32 weeks! This includes a 12 week certificate in nail treatments at Level 2, teaching students techniques such as manicure, pedicure and nail art, leading onto the Level 3 which takes 20 weeks from start to finish and covers nail systems, 3D nail design and competition work.

Why competitions? Are these important?

When you are trying to get into the hair and beauty industries, it is important to stand out from the crowd. Qualifications don’t currently offer grades, only a pass, therefore performance at competitions is the best way for students to stand out in the eyes of employers.

Where will students have the opportunity to compete?

WorldSkills is the biggest vocational education and skills competition in the world, and showcases the value of skills in a range of industries. Students compete on a regional level with winners moving onto a national competition to decide who will represent the UK on the international stage. The College also holds an annual Cornish Skills competition to give all students the chance to compete to represent the College at WorldSkills UK.

The industry is all about competition, salons want their clients to return and to attract clients you need to be seen as one of the best at what you do. You don’t necessarily need to have won a medal, but the fact you have attended a competition shows you are hungry to work in the industry and get out of your comfort zone into a competitive environment. Opportunities to compete are not offered by every institution and this is an important factor to consider when deciding where you want to study.

Will the College have any students at the UK WorldSkills final in November?

We have enjoyed more success at WorldSkills this year. Eight people have been selected for the national nail final and two of these are from Truro and Penwith College! We also have a beauty therapist who is representing us and the region in the national beauty final. Many other students have won medals throughout the various rounds and we are really proud of all of them!

Shannon Morris, WorldSkills finalist

Are the tutors experienced?

Many of our tutors are currently working or running their own business in the industry alongside their teaching, and those that don’t, have first-hand experience of working in the industry before moving into teaching. When our salon suppliers launch new products, tutors attend to learn about them and their practical use. In addition to this everyone is required to complete 30 hours of professional training throughout the year to ensure our students are receiving the best training available.

How do you ensure training reflects what employers and clients want?

We have an employer forum at the College, where we work with local employers to make sure our training ensures students leave College with the skills they need. We track industry demand for every course and are constantly investigating what salons across the country are delivering and adapt teaching accordingly. Stone therapy is currently growing in popularity, for example, and will be given more focus on the relevant courses this year. The industry is constantly changing and this work ensures our students are getting the best training possible, in techniques and treatments that are currently in demand when they leave us.

What facilities can students expect to have access to?

All of our students learn in College salons that mimic the industry and feel like a real working salon, and as students progress on the course they will have the opportunity to work with real clients in our training salons.

Our priority is to ensure that every student that leaves us is ready to go and work in the industry from day one, so we provide all of the kit needed to do this. Students need to pay for this at the start of the course, but unlike other providers, this equips them with everything they need both throughout the course and means they could set up as a mobile nail technician the day they leave us. All nails students are reimbursed £5 for every treatment they provide to paying clients in our training salon and throughout their course this will cover the cost of their kit and they can even make a profit on it, another example of us familiarising and preparing our students to life in the industry.

To find out more about studying part-time with Truro and Penwith College, contact the team on 01872 265800 or email

Students train in an environment that mimics the industry