Industry welcomes important step forward in apprenticeship reforms in England

The government has approved the industry's plans for assessing hairdressing and barbering apprentices within new employer-developed “trailblazer” apprenticeships, an important milestone in the process of getting the new-style apprenticeships ready for delivery in England.

The move, which has been supported by Habia, is being hailed as an important step forward in transforming how apprentices are trained and tested within the industry.  The apprenticeship standards for ‘hair professionals' have already been approved and published on the GOV.UK website.  Although the ‘beauty professional' standards have been approved, the beauty assessment plans are waiting for final government sign-off.

Now that the standards and methods of assessment are in place, the focus will switch to preparations for launching, expected to be May 2017.  This will mean that by 2019, when the first cohort completes their training, hairdressing and barbering apprentices will come out into the world of work much more “salon ready”.

The new hairdressing and barbering apprenticeships will include a mandatory qualification.  The final part of that qualification will be an end-point assessment carried out by an independent examiner, appointed by the Awarding Organisations, at the end of the training programme to check the apprentice's skills and knowledge are up to scratch. 

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

Alongside reforms to the delivery and assessment of training, the government has also changed how the new apprenticeships will be funded.  A new apprenticeship levy will be introduced in April 2017 which will mean 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.  There is an exemption for employers with fewer than 50 people and who take on 16-18 year olds or those aged 19-24 who have been in care, or who have a local authority care plan.  In these circumstances, the smallest employers will not pay anything towards the cost of apprenticeship training and assessment.  An incentive payment of £1000 will also be available to them and to their training provider to support the additional costs of training these groups.

The government has confirmed that hairdressers and barbers will be located in Funding Band 9 which means that government funding will be capped at £9,000 per apprentice.  Employers will be expected to contribute one tenth of the cost, a sum of £900.  

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.”

“There is still much to do, particularly in preparing employers and training providers for delivering the new standards, training independent examiners and conducting assessments.  That's why we will be focusing on workshops to prepare everyone involved over the next few months.  But this important milestone brings us closer to the new dawn for apprenticeships so many of us in the industry have been crying out for.”