EVERYONE has a talent and everyone deserves a chance.
That is the ethos of Morag Sterrick who has run Aquarius hairdressing salon in Earlston for the past 17 years.
Last month Morag, who lives in Newtown, journeyed through to Glasgow with two of her most valued members of staff: salon assistant Megan Bilsland and trainee stylist Luana Henderson.
Their mission was to take part in a course on colour and retail focus, organised and accredited by industry product leader L’Oreal.
And all three lived up to their sponsor’s advertising slogan, proving they were “worth it”, by proudly returning with their certificates.
Megan, who is 20 and lives in Lauder, has Downs Syndrome but has never allowed her disability to stand in the way of her becoming a key member of Morag’s team.
“Megan started as our Saturday salon assistant when she was just 13 and does a terrific job every week, proving popular with her colleagues and our customers,” enthused Morag. “She is absolutely thrilled with her certificate which is thoroughly deserved.” Luana, 19, had just left school in Earlston three years ago when she went to the shop and asked for a job.
“All she had was a CV, but I had a gut feeling that she really wanted to make something of herself,” recalled Morag. “I did what I had done many times before and took a chance.”
Luana is approaching the end of a three-year Modern Apprenticeship and will soon be a fully-qualified stylist.
“Luana has many positive qualities, but she had a particular talent for styling customers with long hair. I have no doubt she had a very promising future in this industry.”
Morag’s approach to recruitment is based on her philosphy that all young people, regardless of scholastic achievement or their ability to perform at interviews, have something to offer in the workplace.
Over the years, she has found the time to offer numerous one-week work placements to fourth-year secondary school pupils and has also provided work placements to many youngsters with learning disabilities.
In an acknowledgement of her efforts, Morag learned this week that she was on a shortlist of three in the employer category at this year’s Business Excellence Awards, run by Scottish Borders Council.
She will thus be donning her gladrags – and calling on Luana’s services – for the award ceremony at the Scottish Borders Campus at Netherdale, Galashiels, on March 23.
Morag’s local councillor John Paton-Day described his consitutent as “a model employer”.
“I just wish more bosses would take a leaf out of Morag’s book and give more young people a chance,” said Mr Paton-Day, who is chairman of SBC’s scrutiny working group on vocational training.
He courted controversy at a seminar on youth unemployment last year when he publicly criticised his own council for not offering enough paid work experience placements.
“I am pleased to say that since the working group reported its findings, things have improved at the council which is now offering more work placements and apprenticeships than ever before,” said Mr Paton-Day.
“But in the private sector, we still need more employees like Morag who realise the value to their business, not to mention society as a whole, of giving youth a chance.”