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She turned her back on engineering‚ and is now flourishing as a hairdresser

17 April 2018 - 15:25 By Penwell Dlamini
Thembela Njanjala, one of the graduates from the Welfare To Work programme run by the Gauteng department of social development.
Thembela Njanjala, one of the graduates from the Welfare To Work programme run by the Gauteng department of social development.
Image: Penwell Dlamini

When Thembela Njanjala left engineering studies to pursue a career in hair and beauty‚ no one was impressed with her.

She had only just started studying engineering at an FET college‚ something her peers and family appreciated‚ when‚ six months in‚ Njanjala went to her father to ask for a change of career. Engineering was not her passion‚ she told him.

"If had pursued engineering science‚ I think I would have been bored because I love hair. It is my first love‚" said Njanjala.

She switched over to hair dressing and cosmetology at the Coastal KZN College in Durban. Here she did National Qualifications Framework (NQF) levels two to four‚ before moving to Johannesburg in 2008 to take up an internship.

In Gauteng she has worked at the Bathhouse Hair and Beauty Salon‚ Hairitage Hair Salon‚ Makeovers Hair and Beauty Salon‚ Motions Hair Salon and The Beauty Hub Hair Salon.

It was at The Beauty Hub Salon that she joined the Welfare To Work initiative‚ run by the Gauteng department of social development‚ a programme she benefited from because she was a recipient of a child social grant for her five-year old son.

She went through six-months training‚ where she was able to get an internationally recognised qualification on hair dressing with City and Guilds.

"When I finished [high] school in 2005‚ I didn't know that you have to study for hair dressing. Hair dressing was my first love but I didn't know that you have to study for it. It was at the [FET] college that I learned I could pursue it as a career‚” she said.

Njanjala‚ 30‚ of Protea Glen‚ Soweto‚ is now a junior tutor at the Beauty Hub Academy‚ based in the Johannesburg inner city. The six-month training that Njanjala got through Welfare To Work would have cost her R26,000‚ an amount could not afford.

Njanjala is now a qualified assessor in hair dressing‚ and is currently busy with her trade test. After this‚ she wants to get a certificate as a moderator‚ facilitator and‚ then‚ internal verifier in hair dressing. This will enable her to assess the assessor when students are doing their exams.

"I want to specialise in Caucasian hair and ethnic hair. That's where I want to go‚” she said.

She admitted that her family was first not impressed with her choice of career.

"At first they were so discouraged because they thought I was just playing around. They didn't know that there is a career in hair dressing. It is only now that they see that this is a real career‚" Njanjala said.

She is one of the 316 youth who graduated in Randburg on Tuesday. These are youth who receive social grants‚ are from-child headed household‚ victims of gender based violence pr those exiting substance abuse treatment centres.