A L'Oréal hairstylist

PARIS — Digital has transformed the hairdressing industry, so to evolve with the swiftly changing times L’Oréal is set to open a school and launch the first bachelor’s degree in hairdressing and entrepreneurship.

According to Nathalie Roos, president of L’Oréal’s Professional Products Division, with more than 10,000 hairdresser jobs shed in France over the past decade, the hairdressing industry suffers from a dearth of qualified, motivated workers.

It became clear when speaking to industry professionals that change is needed, Roos said during a press conference here Tuesday.

Hairdressing remains a big business in France. It’s the country’s second-largest trade skill sector, after bakeries. Its 85,000 salons — of which 90 percent are independently owned — generate 6 billion euros annually, according to a study by Roland Berger in March, which L’Oréal commissioned.

Eighty-five percent of France’s denizens live in a community that has at least one hair salon, and the number of salons keeps rising, albeit at a slower pace than prior to 2014.

French people on average clock between four and seven salon visits a year, the research showed.

“Digital has completely changed the world of hairdressing,” said Roos, explaining that while in the past the industry functioned in a top-down structure, where a company like L’Oréal would set trends, they now also stem from the likes of influencers and Instagram images, which are shown to hairstylists to replicate.

Apps help make hairstylists more mobile, and in France, 30 percent of women have hairdressers come to their homes.

“To go into a salon, it has to be worth it,” said Roos, adding that new models therefore must emerge.

Today, a large percentage of hairdressers — 51 percent in the U.S. — do not work for one particular salon, but rather rent a space in a salon, for instance.

“Salons today need to be super specialized,” Roos said. They also need to be highly experiential, which is where digital can play a major role.

The idea behind the new school, called Real Campus by L’Oréal, is to offer talented young hairdressers tools that they need to innovate the customer journey and meet consumers’ growing desire for unique experiences.

Roos said the school is called “Real” because it’s anchored in reality, in today’s ever-evolving marketplace. Real Campus is meant to allow each student to realize their own individual projects.

The school, which will debut in January, is to be located on Rue Didot in Paris’ 14th arrondissement. It will have 150 students annually and a course load spanning three years. That includes technical proficiency but also cross-functional skills in entrepreneurship and digital.

Graduates will be awarded a bachelor’s of hairdressing and entrepreneurship, a newly created degree.

Candidates for the school will be young people from the hairdressing sector, students with a general or vocational baccalaureate or people seeking to train for a new métier. The latter can, prior to taking the entrance test, enroll in a month-long intensive technical course.

L’Oréal aims to train 10,000 hairdressers within a decade, including through exchange programs with schools abroad.

Roos said the project is in keeping with L’Oréal’s DNA. One-hundred-and-ten years ago, the group’s founder Eugène Schueller began the company by developing a hair-color formula and always maintained training to be key to the business.

The beauty group has launched numerous programs to bolster hairdresser’s education. There’s a worldwide e-learning platform, called L’Oréal Access, and a competition called Top Stylist for young talents, for instance.

Professional Products is L’Oréal’s third-largest division. Its sales rose 5.4 percent in reported terms and 2.7 percent on a like-for-like basis in the second quarter of 2019 to 878.9 million euros.

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