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Two popular programs at Algonquin College on the chopping block

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It could be the end of an era for two popular programs at Algonquin College, as both the hairstyling and esthetician programs are on the chopping block.

"Management maintains to this day that the decision is purely financial," said Tara Ettinger, who is a hairstyling and esthetician professor at the college.

In a statement, the college tells CTV News this is part of a "strategic planning process," saying "the objective is to ensure that we make best use of the College's resources, while offering a regularly updated mix of programs that serve the needs of students, employers and the community."

But Ettinger says it will mean the end of programs that are female-dominated and in high demand.

"We lost a lot of talented professionals because of the huge closures that happened over the pandemic and in order to fill that gap, we need programs like this," said Ettinger.

It's estimated within the next five to 10 years, the shortage of hairstylists will grow to 10,000 nationwide, according to the Canadian Occupational Projection System.

"We know the governments are very focused on the trades and we're the same we have all these labour shortages so this possible suspension of these programs will have huge ramifications to the Ottawa area and the trade," said Tanya Hill, president of the Ontario Professional Hairstylist Association.

And it's not like they're in decline.

"Our programs are waitlisted, so we're in demand. The industry requires estheticians, so we can't produce them fast enough," said Sylvie Canonico, esthetician program coordinator.

Both programs also generate revenue for the college, with salon services for the public on campus.

"We have all these solutions ready to go of how we could make this more financially viable," said Canonico.

The Board of Governors is expected to vote on June 3.

A petition to save the programs is also circulating. So far, it has garnered more than 2,600 signatures.

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