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Barber school opening in Saint John

A barber college opening in New Brunswick next month will be the first East Coast school to offer the trade in 15 years.

Eastern College will begin offering barber classes this summer on its Saint John campus.

The last barber school east of Toronto closed in 1996 and would-be Atlantic Canadian students were forced to attend cosmetology school.

The college will provide the training while the New Brunswick Registered Barbers' Association will handle the licensing.

Blaine Harris is the association's registrar. He said having to study at cosmetology school deterred a lot of people who wanted to become barbers.

"Here in New Brunswick, a lot of young guys, young girls, who don't want to do perms, don't want to do manicures and pedicures, don't go off to the schools. They go off to other trades," he said.

"If the barber program is available to them without having to do manicuring, pedicuring, and perms, then yes, they'll come to a barbering program."

Harris said there are major differences between hair dressers and barbers.

"People who go to the hair-styling salons go there to get gussied — to get all fancied up. A barber maintains a customer. In their training they're taught how to do hair cutting on a maintaining basis, not so much of a styling basis," he said.

Perm skills not needed at barbershop
Mike Doucet, a barber in Grand Bay, did his training five years ago. As there was no barber school, he attended cosmetology school.

"In essence, I had to go to beauty school. Picture a 40-year-old man in a classroom with 18 students, mostly all girls from ages 18 to 22 years old. I was the black sheep," he said.

He spent a lot of time doing roller sets and perms and colouring, which he hasn't used at his barbershop.

Chris Kantor, the campus manager for Eastern College, said the 41-week program would be popular.

"There's definitely a growing need because they haven't been training barbers over the past number of years," she said.

There is a shortage of barbers in the province, she added, meaning there will likely be jobs for most of the graduates.