Training up apprentices for a position on the salon floor is one of the most popular ways for hairdressers and barbers to fill vacancies and bring on new talent.
So, what is an apprenticeship?

A way for young people to earn while they learn in a real job and also gain a nationally recognised qualification

But taking on an apprentice is not a decision to be taken lightly. Everyone involved has to make a long-term commitment and be prepared to invest time and knowledge. So how can employers make apprenticeships really work for them? Here are the NHF’s top tips.

1. Think about the benefits of taking on an Apprentice

These include:

  • Improving the productivity and effectiveness of your business
  • They are a cost-effective way of identifying and bringing on new talent
  • Ensuring you’re training up future employees to replace ones you lose
  • Apprenticeship training is funded (there will be changes in England from 2015)
  • You should end up with a motivated, satisfied, loyal trainee

You need to think about the commitment you will have to make as an employer – otherwise it may be easier to recruit someone who is already trained (but maybe not to your standards!)

But if you want to pass on your knowledge and expertise, and your passion for the industry, you could inspire an enthusiastic young person into becoming a stylist, then taking on an apprentice is something for you to consider.

2. Make the most of the funding available

Apprenticeship funding in England will change from 2015 and employers will have to contribute at least some of the cost of training and assessment (this doesn’t apply to Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland). But, in the meantime organisations can claim funding for the training they provide to apprentices.

The amount varies depending on the job role and the age of the apprentice. Apprentices aged 16-18 are fully funded, so training providers can claim the full cost of their training. Funding for Apprentices aged 19 or over is less, covering up to 50% of the cost of their training.

In England you may be able to get an Apprenticeship Grant for Employers of 16-24 year olds (AGE 16-24). This is a grant of £1,500 available to small businesses who have not started an apprentice in the past 12 months, and who want to take on an apprentice aged 16-24.

There are similar incentives for employers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The NHF Guide to Apprenticeships for Employers includes details of those and where to find more information.

3. Pay your Apprentices at the right rate

You must pay your Apprentice at the National Minimum Wage, currently £2.68 per hour. If the Apprentice is 19 or over and in the first year of their Apprenticeship, they can still be paid at the Apprenticeship rate. But if they are aged 19 or over and they have done more than 12 months of their Apprenticeship you must pay them at the right National Minimum Wage for their age:

The maximum fine for employers who don’t pay at the right rate is £20,000 plus the unpaid wages. The government also publishes the names of businesses and their owners where fines have been imposed. Just think of the damage this could do to your reputation – so make sure you pay at the right rate. Even if you outsource your payroll, as the employer, you’re the one who will be held responsible. NHF updates its members regularly about changes to the National Minimum Wage rates.

4. Get your paperwork sorted out

You must have a contract of employment which covers as a minimum the employment start date, hours worked per week, salary and annual holiday entitlement. NHF provides its members with free Apprenticeship contracts (there are different ones for England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland!)

You must also have employer’s liability insurance and a health and safety policy. NHF can help with that with its guides on health and safety for hairdressing salons and barber shops.

Check back next week to find out:
  • What’s in an Apprenticeship training programme?
  • What’s your role in Apprenticeship training?
  • Who does what?
  • How do you choose a training provider and find an Apprentice?


For more information, visit the National Hairdresser’s Federation here

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