When spring classes resume at South Suburban College in 2021, the first floor will have a new look in more ways than one. Students will be social distancing in the College’s brand-new, state-of-the-art Barber School in South Holland.
The SSC Board of Trustees approved the hiring of its first ever Barber College faculty – Bobby Mattison – at its November Board Meeting. Chairman Frank M. Zuccarelli and the Board first announced the establishment of the program in December of 2019. The college subsequently received full approval from the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) this year as well as its licensure from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.
Bobby looks forward to creating new opportunities for others to become barbers and is excited to get started in his new full-time role at SSC. “You have to find something you love and would do for free, but find a way to get paid for it. Barbering is that for me, and I know it can be for so many others.”
Bobby has been a licensed barber and instructor since 2008. He previously co-owned and operated Legacy Barber College in Glenwood, Illinois, and was featured on ABC News Chicago. He was asked by the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center to introduce its first licensed barber school for the Standing Tall Against Recidivism program, which enabled eight residents to pass the Illinois licensing exam.
Bobby believes COVID-19 has ushered a greater need for this profession. “Being a licensed barber makes sense because I know that even in the midst of a pandemic, people were calling me and other barbers to cut their hair. We had to say no because we were being responsible, but that lets you know that barbers and beauticians are always top of mind.”
Bobby says he and South Suburban plan to connect with area junior high and high schools about the program. He has received significant inquiries already for the state’s only active public Barber School.
“With unemployment numbers rising, there is a greater need to have a license or certification to add to your resume,” said Bobby. “Students will have an incredible opportunity to get a license, be a barber and make money right away which is a positive situation for everyone.”
Due to social distancing restrictions, the program will begin with 12 students and expand as the pandemic slows. In the Chicago Southland area, there are currently 286 new job openings for barbers.
The SSC Barbering Program was established in part by a Workforce Equity Initiative grant the college received through ICCB. Through expanded access, opportunity, and support services, the project is anticipated to yield impactful outcomes for individuals, families, communities, local businesses. The Barbering curriculum is a 17-month credit program leading to professional certification. SSC will be offering a 41-hour Barber Technician (BT) Certificate and a 60-hour Associate of Applied Science Degree in Barbering track for students seeking a college degree as a part of the program. Both tracks will include preparation and testing for National Barbering Written Licensing Examination, which is essential to applying for licensure in Illinois.