What are T Levels and How will they Impact the Hairdressing Industry?

by charlottegw / last updated January 31, 2020

t levels apprentice

The government has described T Levels as the ‘the biggest overhaul of post-school education in 70 years’. But what exactly are they? And how will they affect training and apprenticeships in the hairdressing, beauty and barbering sector? We looked to the National Hairdressing Federation for more information. 

What are T Levels?

Short for Technical Levels, the new T levels are technical qualifications for those aged 16 and above. They are being developed in partnership by the government, business and education.

T levels are two-year, level 3 technical study programmes leading to a specific qualification. They will be college-based and are expected to replace many of the current vocational and education qualifications currently offered at level 3. It is expected that there will be a hairdressing, beauty therapy, barbering and aesthetics T level.

There will be 15 T levels in total. Other areas of study will include software design; construction; legal and finance; catering; agriculture; and childcare.

The Institute for Apprenticeships will become the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education in April 2018.

What will T levels offer?

The aim of T levels is to help individuals secure skilled employment by providing the following:

• Practical skills and knowledge specific to their chosen industry or occupation.
• At least 45 days’ relevant and meaningful work placement (at no cost to employers).
• Core English, maths and digital skills (probably to be graded from E to A*).
• Transferable skills for use in the workplace.

T level students will:

• Learn practical skills specific to their chosen occupation from the beginning of their course.
• Choose the occupational specialisms they wish to focus on during the course (probably to be graded as a pass, merit or distinction).

t levels student

What will be the impact on the hair and beauty industry

The NHF has questioned how well the new T level in hair and beauty will work in practice. NHF CEO Hilary Hall points out that the existing apprenticeship schemes offer more workplace experience than the new T levels will.

Hilary says: “We believe that employers in our industry will want T level learners to pass the same independent end-point assessment as apprentices, because this is the only way to ensure that learners have the necessary ‘work-ready’ skills.

“Also, how and where are colleges going to find enough salons and barbershops to take on all these extra work experience trainees?

“However, we recognise that employers are struggling to recruit school-leavers as apprentices. T levels may provide a more suitable alternative than the current college-based courses. So we encourage employers to get involved and apply for places on the panels which will be developing the content of these new qualifications.”

When will T Levels be introduced?

The new T levels are currently being developed and will be fully in place by 2022. It is expected that the hair and beauty T level will be available from 2021. The first three T levels will be in Digital, Construction, and Education and Childcare and will be taught from 2020.

In a new release Caroline Larissey, NHF/NBF director of quality & standards and a member of the T level panel, said: “We will be releasing the draft hair and beauty T levels for comment in late July [2019] and we urge everyone to have their say. While we are convinced that employers in hairdressing or barbering will always prefer apprenticeships to T levels, employers are finding it difficult to recruit school leavers. Once T levels are available, there may be even fewer school leavers coming onto the market, leaving employers with little option but to take on learners who have at least achieved a relevant T level.”

T levels will not replace the current apprenticeships in hairdressing, barbering, beauty therapy and nail services.  They will sit alongside apprenticeships and A levels offering an additional route into work.

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