New trailblazer apprenticeships set to transform how beauty apprentices are trained and tested

The Government has approved plans for assessing beauty and hair apprentices within new employer-developed “trailblazer” apprenticeships – hailed as an important step forward in transforming how apprentices are trained and tested within the industry.

Apprenticeship standards for hair professionals have already been approved and published on the website. Beauty professional standards are hot on its heels with standards having been approved but awaiting final government sign-off, aiming for launch from May 2017.

The beauty professional standards include: beauty and make-up consultancy (an entirely new standard covering those who work in beauty retail settings), beauty therapy and nail services.

The new standards are set at a higher level than the apprenticeship frameworks, which are being phased out, including some knowledge, skills or behaviours which were at Level 3 in the old frameworks.  

The Department for Education gave its backing to the assessment plans submitted to ministers, which were drawn up by a cross-industry trailblazer group of employers, supported by the National Hairdressers’ Federation (NHF) and sector skills body Habia.

A programme of workshops which explain the changes agreed so far and what they mean for salon and training providers will be put in place over the coming months.

The Government has also changed how the new apprenticeships will be funded, with a new apprenticeship levy being introduced in April 2017. Large employers with a pay bill of £3m or more will have to pay 0.5% of their pay bill into a pot to be spent on apprenticeship training.

Although the levy is UK-wide, the devolved nations will have a say in how the levy money can be spent by employers.

Non-levy paying employers in England will contribute 10% towards the cost of apprenticeship training and assessment, but there is an exemption for employers with fewer than 50 staff and who take on 16–18-year-olds or those aged between 19–24 who have been in care, or who have a local authority care plan.

In these circumstances, the smallest employers with not pay anything towards the cost of apprenticeship training and assessment, and an incentive payment of £1,000 will be available to them and to their training provider to support the additional costs of training these groups.

Hellen Ward, managing director of Richard Ward Hair and Metrospa, who is leading the strategic trailblazer group on hairdressing, said: “This is an important step forward in creating more relevant and practical training and assessment standards, education that works for apprentices, employers and training providers alike.

“It is great news, and a vindication of all the hard work by the trailblazer groups to get to this stage. More importantly, it shows we are now making real progress towards the goal of salons being able to take on people who are ‘salon ready’ at the end of their training.”

Trailblazers are groups of employers responsible for setting apprenticeship standards in England – what they should know and be able to do before they are ready to work in beauty, barbering or hairdressing.

For more information on the new standards, click here.