The Debate: Have Hairdressing Apprenticeships Improved in Recent Years?

by laurahusband / last updated February 6, 2020

Hairdressing Apprenticeships Improved

Alan Woods CEO of iTEC and VTCT and Caroline Larissey, director of quality and standards at the National Hair and Beauty Federation discuss how hairdressing apprenticeships have improved in recent years for  National Apprentice Week.

“The new standards are opening more doors for young apprentices”


Alan Woods OBE, CEO at iTEC and VTCT 

“In the ever-expanding and changing industries of hair and beauty, there is a noticeable shift in the robustness of the qualifications being offered. Most recently, with the launch of the new Professional Apprenticeship Standards. These new standards are embracing this shift in enhancing the professionalism of these industries.

We are seeing a new wave of apprentices go through the new End-Point Assessment process at a professional standard previously unmatched. Whilst the Standard may be more challenging, this will soon become the norm and will continue to improve the professionalism across businesses.

These new Standards are also helping to open more doors for young apprentices who aren’t sure where they want their career to take them. The breadth of experience gained with the hair professional should not only challenge apprentices, but provide a range of professional tools from cutting, colouring, styling and client consultations, which supports the decision around which career pathway to take.

In addition, the employer is now much more involved in developing the apprentice. By placing the employer in the driving seat to support the success of the learner, and therefore their business, it enhances the knowledge and success of both parties.

Every apprentice we see is entering the salon with a structured learning plan agreed by the apprentice, training provider and employer. This ensures the apprentice’s goals help lead them into a rewarding job they love.

In these fast-paced industries, it’s imperative that tutors and training providers keep on top of the latest trends and changes to the sector. Things like gaining CPD and attending education forums will help keep you up to date and informed whilst making sure you’re at the top of your game when teaching.”

“Have hairdressing apprenticeships improved? Yes they have become more supportive of employers”

Caroline Larissey, director of quality and standards at the NHBF

The NHBF’s work over the past few years has resulted in some major improvements for both employers and apprentices.

The apprentice service has become more supportive of employers. The whole apprenticeship process can now be managed online with employers choosing who does what, where and when. For example, employers can choose a training provider via the online portal and also select their end-point assessment organisation and where the assessments are carried out. A further benefit is that employers can also use the online portal to advertise their apprenticeship vacancies, as well as search for and recruit apprentices.

Employers have had a huge say in the development of the new Standards (Trailblazer) apprenticeships in the UK, helping to ensure that apprentices become competent ‘salon-ready’ employees at the end of their apprenticeship. As part of this, the level 2 hair professional: hairdressing/barbering Standards are set at a higher standard than the old apprenticeship frameworks, (equating to a level 2½). There is also greater flexibility for apprentices with the ability choose options such as hair extensions, perming or relaxing techniques, while still having to pass the hair professional mandatory qualification.

The end-point assessment for Standards apprenticeships provides a robust standardised test (similar to an employer skills test) that ensures the apprentice has reached industry-standard competence.

Government funding is considerably higher for the new Standards apprenticeships compared to the old frameworks.

A level 3 advanced and creative hair professional progression route has also been developed and will be available very soon. This will enable apprentices to develop a showcase of looks to promote their skills and knowledge to salon clients.

We’re pleased that the old apprenticeship frameworks will no longer be available in England after 31 July 2020. In many cases, these have been causing confusion and have led to double standards with some apprentices not being ‘salon-ready’ after completing a framework apprenticeship.

Of more concern is the fact that apprentices are becoming harder to recruit. Instead of becoming apprentices, many young people are choosing to stay on at school or go onto other types of further and higher education.



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