The truth about employing a beauty apprentice: wage, costs and training

Many salon owners struggle to find the perfect therapists for their business, but could taking on apprentices be the answer to the recruitment crisis? When I opened my salon Beauty Lounge in Doncaster 13 years ago, I invested in two apprentices, training them to my standards and paying them a low-cost wage. 

For me, the apprentice gamble paid off, with both living up to my expectations. Once qualified I offered them full-time roles and both are still with me today. I believe high-street salons have a responsibility to train the next generation to help reach these much-needed employer standards, but I also know there’s a lot of financial and time cost associated with doing so, which a lot of people don’t have. 

Here’s everything you need to know about taking on an apprentice…

What are the Government rules about hiring apprentices?

If you have fewer than 50 employees, you and your training provider will each receive a £1,000 Government grant for each 16–18-year-old apprentice you take on. This also applies to 19–24-year-old apprentices who have been in care or have a local authority care plan.  

This is the Government’s way to increase apprenticeships in the UK and persuade more small business owners to take on an apprentice. This grant is definitely a pro when taking on an apprentice because it covers a couple of months wages, but it can take a while to get your first payment of £500, so be aware of this.  

Full details on the funding and rules can be found on the Government website. Also, the Level 2 Trailblazer beauty, make-up consultant and nail services technician apprenticeship standards were approved for delivery last year

I personally believe the Government should increase the grant to £2,000 as this would give employers extra funding to improve an apprentice’s CPD knowledge or introduce a new treatment to the salon for them to train in.  

I don’t regret taking on my apprentices – both when Beauty Lounge was an established and new business – as all have helped my salon to grow to the reputable establishment it is today. However, there are a few things you should consider before taking on an apprenticeship, to make sure you have the time and capacity to do so. 

What are the pros of hiring an apprentice?  

  1. An apprentice now earns £3.90 per hour and this reduced wage allows you to offer cheaper trainee treatment prices while they build up their clientele. 
  1. As an apprentice doesn’t have a full column of clients they can assist other therapists and nail techs in setting up treatments and cleaning rooms/spaces afterwards. This saves time in the diary for other staff members, meaning you can book in an extra client per day. 
  1. You can train them in your way of doing treatments so they don’t pick up bad habits, and this will make them ready to work on the real life salon floor when they leave college. 

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What are the cons of hiring an apprentice? 

  1. Time. Having an apprentice does take you away from other jobs you need to do because that person needs to be trained in all the processes within your salon. Here’s a list of the training you need to give them
  1. Strict college rules. Your apprentice will only be able to do one day training per week with you. This can impact your business by them not being available to assist in treatments on certain days.
  1. The Government states that employers and training providers should meet the 20% off-the-job training requirement for apprentices. Once again, this could be another working day they aren’t available to assist you. 

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Michelle Brookes is owner of the Beauty Lounge in Doncaster and a Professional Beauty Awards 2019 finalist. Read Brookes advice on the benefits of adding nail art to your treatment menu

Earlier this year, a report came out suggesting that secondary schools are preventing pupils from finding out about vocational beauty therapy courses. Do you agree?