Apprentice Anya is proving an “invaluable asset” to hair business

Recruiting Anya O’Callaghan as marketing, education and business development officer is paying dividends for award winning hair salon Spirit Hair Team in Ystrad Mynach.

Anya, 25, who is working towards an Apprenticeship in Social Media for Business delivered by training provider Educ8, was initially employed part-time to help organise online training workshops with the company’s suppliers during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns.

An “invaluable asset” to the business, her role is now full time and has been extended to cover business development, recruitment of apprentices, website development, social media marketing and making learning more accessible to apprentices with additional learning needs.

In recognition of her impact on the business, Anya has been shortlisted for the Tomorrow’s Talent Award at the prestigious Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2022. The winners will be announced at a virtual awards ceremony on November 10.

The awards highlight the outstanding achievements, during unprecedented times, of employers, apprentices and work-based learning practitioners.

Highlight of the year for apprentices, employers and work-based learning providers and practitioners, the awards are organised by the Welsh Government and supported by the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW). Headline sponsor for the third year is Openreach.

Spirit Hair Team’s owner Janine O’Callaghan is delighted with her daughter Anya’s work which, she says, is expected to boost the company’s turnover by 12% this year.

“Anya has done far more than I could have ever expected to develop my business,” said Janine, who received a Welsh Government Covid recovery grant to help towards employing her and one other apprentice. “She has found new business opportunities for us and introduced new hairdressing and online services, which have secured our future sustainability.

“She is highly motivated, creative and brimming with ideas on how we can develop our business. Post-lockdown, I realised that we were coming back to a completely different industry which had moved online.

“Now more than ever, apprentices are key to securing the future of our business. I have been forced to rethink my business, recognising that we had weaknesses in our marketing strategy and the way we recruited new apprentices and talent.”

Janine, who owns both Spirit Hair Team and Outpost Barbers, has employed 55 apprentices over the years and currently has six working towards Apprenticeships in Hairdressing and Barbering with ISA Training, part of Educ8 Group.

Anya has established links with Careers Wales and local schools to arrange work experience placements which Janine hopes will develop into apprenticeships.

Having additional learning needs herself has enabled Anya to use her personal experience to make learning more accessible to apprentices who have dyslexia and dyspraxia.

She now trains hairdressing learners on the Level 1 programme, which she is redesigning to improve practical ways of learning. “I want to help people who are coming into the industry,” added Anya.

Ann Nicholas, customer account director at Educ8, describes Anya as the “perfect example” of an apprentice who has used her skills, knowledge, initiative and personal experience to improve training within her workplace to benefit other apprentices.

Economy Minister Vaughan Gething congratulated Anya and all the other shortlisted finalists. “Apprenticeships make a huge contribution to our economy and will be crucial as Wales continues to bounce back from the pandemic,” he said.

“They can help futureproof, motivate and diversify a workforce, offering people the chance to gain high-quality vocational skills.

“As part of our Young Person’s Guarantee, the Welsh Government will be investing £366 million over the next three years to deliver 125,000 all-age apprenticeships across Wales during the current term of government.

“We want to increase opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to develop transferable skills in the workplace and improve their lives. The investment will also help tackle skills shortages and gaps in priority sectors critical to drive productivity and economic growth, supporting our net zero ambitions, the every-day foundational economy and public services.”

The Apprenticeship Programme is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund. For more information about recruiting an apprentice, visit: or call 03000 603000.