Jessica Steadman
Jill Farmer (Dobson)

Member Article

?Too clever? hairdresser finally achieves dream

A north east woman who was told she was “too clever to cut hair” is finally realising her dream of a career in hairdressing.

Jessica Steadman, 25, from Chester-le-Street, achieved good GCSE grades when she was 16 and had always wanted to be a hairdresser. But she was told by careers advisors at her school that only those who were not academic achievers became hairstylists.

Her dreams of using her creative skills in the hair industry were dashed and, on their advice, Jessica reluctantly went on to a local college to study for a BTEC in health studies.

But she quickly lost enthusiasm for her course; she said: “I’d always been interested in hair styling and I’d never fancied having a desk job. But when it came to making choices when I was leaving school, I felt that I wasn’t listened to. Despite being very focused on what I wanted to do, I was persuaded that my A to C GCSE grades would be wasted if I went down a vocational route, instead of higher education.”

Jessica left college and went on to do various jobs that she didn’t enjoy - at call centres and in bars. At 19, Jessica finally got the job she longed for and became an apprentice hairdresser with The North East Employment Training Agency (NEETA). She says she has never looked back and is now enjoying styling, colouring and cutting hair at Houghton Cuts salon in Houghton-le-Spring.

Jessica is also working towards her Certificate in Education with NEETA which is a member of training professional body, Northumbria Learning Providers. The qualification will allow her to teach her craft to young people.

Susan Briganti, vice chair of Northumbria Learning Providers and owner of NEETA, said: “It is nine years since Jessica left school and I’d like to think that careers advisors these days don’t hold views that high academic achievers aren’t suited to hairdressing. A career in hair can provide all sorts of opportunities in theatre, tv and film, as well as salons and freelance working.”

NEETA provides training and apprenticeships in hair and beauty therapy as well as foundation learning for 16-18 year olds who are interested in becoming an apprentice.

Northumbria Learning Providers (NLP) is an association of training providers that operate within Northumberland, North Tyneside, Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland and South Tyneside. NLP supports its members to provide quality training and promote their services.

If you’re a training provider and would like more information about the benefits of being a member of Northumbria Learning Providers log on to

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Jill Farmer (Dobson) .

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