With the gap between the abundance of job opportunities and lack of qualified candidates only increasing, spa professionals are left with quite a challenge. With the many benefits a career in spa offers, how we can we articulate the unique industry opportunities to the next generation of leaders? Taking the prevalent controversy head-on, industry leaders are coming together through innovative programs to understand why workforce shortage continues to be an issue, and figure out how to refashion the concern.

The ISPA U.S. Spa Industry Study reports nearly 33,000 job openings are available in the spa sector, while the U.S. Department of Labor projects spa and salon growth between 10 and 20 percent over the next decade. As promotion of careers in the spa industry will be an important initiative for ISPA’s future, industry leaders and members’ commitment to propelling spa forward starts and ends with the people a part of it.

Industry professionals are working to piece the puzzle together through three innovative initiatives – the Global Mentorship Program, Beauty Changes Lives campaign and Mary Tabacchi scholarship.

1. GMP is Guiding and Inspiring Spa Leadership

Global Mentorship Program (GMP) is an initiative of the Global Wellness Institute addressing predicted management shortages in the spa and wellness industry. Developed in response to a 2012 study addressing market gaps in spa management, researchers explored ways to spotlight available job opportunities.

While the hiring dilemma continued to seem unsolvable, spa professionals began digging deeper over the shortfall of qualified candidates, asking themselves, “How can we instill longevity within the spa industry?”

Kate Mearns, a Global Regional Director of GWI’s Global Mentorship Program, Principal Consultant at 5 Spa Consulting and longtime ISPA member, explained that the goal of GMP is to engage experienced managers with newer managers to foster and sustain professional growth. She says the mentorship program falls heavily on education regarding the inadequacy of staffing levels.

“This is a real barrier to continue to grow and sustain our businesses,” Mearns commented on the management shortage topic. “We saw there was a huge deficit of therapists, nail technicians and estheticians
and knew we could make a bigger impact to slice the pie down by working with managerial positions.”

Mearns explains that the program is not meant to do more than connect, support and guide mentees in preparation of one day becoming spa managers and directors.

“We wanted to give our educators an accessible resource that allows them to connect with and collaborate on the future success of our industry,” Mearns remarked. “The role of the mentor is to guide and provide resources, knowledge and opportunities to help the mentee create a successful path.”

Jean-Guy de Gabriac, Global Mentorship Program Chair and CEO of Tip Touch, says he saw the management labor pool problem as a call to take action, emphasizing how badly the industry needs not only better managers, but better leaders – where ISPA members truly shine.

2. Beauty Changes Lives Campaign Supports Next Leaders

The Beauty Changes Lives Foundation has partnered with ISPA to launch a nationwide call to action – the “Get Your Dream Job” campaign, where professional beauty and spa industries are joining forces to elevate and celebrate careers in spa.

Currently providing scholarships to students pursuing esthetics, cosmetology, makeup, nails and runway/editorial, BCL acts as a nonprofit foundation that unites beauty and wellness professionals with the mission to elevate the perception of the beauty industry as a viable and rewarding career choice.

The “Get Your Dream Job” initiative will be promoted by spas, salons and schools coast-to-coast to build awareness of the extraordinary career opportunities in the spa sector, with the goal of recruiting new minds.

The campaign will be unveiled at the 27th annual ISPA Conference & Expo at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, and will officially launch November 1st. With the spa industry’s continued growth, this campaign will spread the message about the benefits of working in spas, and attract job seekers in search of stable, promising careers.

3. Mary Tabacchi Scholarship

Central to ISPA’s investment in the future lies the ISPA Foundation Mary Tabacchi Scholarship. With the help of the ISPA Foundation and through a wealth of donations, students interested in pursuing a career in spa management can fulfill those aspirations. It is ISPA’s hope that students touched by these scholarships will not only provide comfort and care to those who need it, but serve as an inspiration to
others to join the spa profession.

The scholarship was created in 2006, named in honor of Mary Tabacchi PhD, RD, Professor, Services Marketing and Operations Management at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, and continues to uncover many bright and emerging leaders in the world of spa.