At a Glance
Fayette County Career & Technical Institute (FCCTI) successfully started a new barber program through an expedited process that involved collaboration with multiple stakeholders.
FCCTI had considered opening a barber program for many years. So, when the results of a student survey conducted by a sending school indicated an interest in such a program, FCCTI decided to look into the feasibility of creating a barber program as part of its adult education offerings. FCCTI wanted to determine if there was a great enough need in the region to warrant opening a new program.
After considering various factors, Adult Education Coordinator Maria Lovat and Executive Director Dr. Cynthia Shaw found several compelling reasons to move forward with developing the program.
- Research indicated that employment for barbers in Pennsylvania is projected to increase by nearly nine percent over the ten-year period ending in 2026.
- The barbering schools nearest to Fayette County were over an hour away in Pittsburgh. A program at FCCTI could fill this gap in available community services and provide a more direct and accessible career pathway for those interested in barbering.
- A barbering program could prepare adults for successful employment and provide an alternative to more expensive post-secondary tuition options.
- The program would help FCCTI uphold its mission statement “to prepare all students for career & post-secondary success by empowering then with high level of technical skill, academic proficiency, and professionalism.”
Confident that a barbering program was a good fit for FCCTI’s adult education program, administrators moved forward to expedite the program development process. The entire process lasted eight months, from January 2020 when FCCTI first considered a barbering program to August 2020 when the first class met. During that time, Dr. Shaw, who provided the initial support for the program, approved the curriculum, presented the idea to the JOC and received its support, and established a location in the school for the program. Ms. Lovat, assembled the required materials, completed the classroom design and remodel, and recruited an instructor and students. Robert T. Caldwell, barber instructor, created the curriculum and helped purchase all the necessary items for the program. Other FCCTI instructors worked construction during the summer of 2020 to complete the classroom. From the development of the curriculum to preparing the building facilities, the creation of FCCTI’s adult education barber program was a team effort.
Although the process of getting the barbering program approved and up and running in such an expedited timeframe was relatively smooth, FCCTI did run into a few challenges. The greatest challenge was hiring a full-time instructor as barber instructors are hard to find. Cheryl Olson, the cosmetology teacher at FCCTI, recruited her longtime friend Mr. Caldwell who had retired from teaching barbering in the prison system and at a private school in Erie. (Currently, he works in his barber shop on weekends.) As of February 2021, FCCTI has hired a second barber instructor and is training three other individuals to become instructors as well. Ms. Lovat notes that recruiting instructors and substitute teachers presents an ongoing challenge as the program continues.
FCCTI also had to work around challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The delivery of classroom equipment and furniture from New York City was delayed due to COVID-19 restrictions. Classes were set to begin on September 8, 2020, but the materials did not arrive until the second week of August. Working on a tight schedule, FCCTI faculty installed all the equipment and furniture in order to obtain program approval from the State Board of Barber Examiners, the
Department of Education and Middle States Association of Colleges and School.
FCCTI’s barber program aims to prepare students to earn a credential to begin a career in barbering. Students may apply for Title IV assistance. The program is 1250 hours, and upon successful completion, students can obtain their Barber’s License. The program is housed under the adult education department, but interested high school students may enroll. As the new program continues to develop and enroll students, FCCTI faculty is excited to offer this opportunity to the community.
As of the 2020-2021 school year, the barbering class enrolls 15 adults and three high school students.