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. In last week’s blog we looked at what an Apprenticeship is, the funding available and paying your Apprentices at the right rate to stay within the law.

1. Be clear about what’s included within the apprenticeship training programme

At the moment, Apprenticeships come in two levels:

  • Level 2 (Intermediate) and
  • Level 3 (Advanced)

Apprenticeships are available for hairdressing or barbering and will take somewhere around 2 years to complete. The time taken can be longer or shorter depending on how committed you and your Apprentice are, how skilled they are and how your college or training provider structures the programme.

Each Apprenticeship includes:

  • An NVQ at Level 2 or level 3 (SVQ in Scotland) in hairdressing or barbering
  • Qualifications in Maths or English – these are called functional skills in England. In Scotland they are called essential skills which also include IT, working with others and problem solving. In Wales and N Ireland they are called essential skills and include ICT
  • Additional problems to help prepare Apprentices for the world of work, usually known as employee rights and responsibilities, but in England personal learning and thinking skills are included as well

The differences between England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland are already confusing, but there will be major changes in Apprenticeship programmes in England from 2015 onwards, not only what’s in an Apprenticeship programme but also how it’s funded. NHF provides regular briefings for its members on Apprenticeships.

2. Understand who does what

An apprenticeship is a three-way partnership between the apprentice, employer and college/training provider. You need to be sure that the training delivered, when and how it’s delivered suits you as the employer, fits in with salon working practices and suits the apprentice as well – so work with the training provider to choose the model which works best for you:

  • Weekly day release – the apprentice attends all-day training sessions at the college or training provider to do theory, practical training and assessment (tests)
  • Weekly or monthly training day – the apprentice attends a college or training provider, where they do theory, practical training and assessment (tests). This normally takes place all year round.
  • Evening training weekly – similar to day release, but takes place after normal working hours.
  • Assessing in the salon (normally every fortnight or monthly) – the apprentice is visited in the salon by an assessor from the college or training provider who will review progress, deliver training and assess practical skills.
3. Understand your responsibilities to your apprentice

You do have responsibilities to your apprentice – your apprentice is not just shampoo fodder”! So, you need to:

  • Allow the apprentice time to develop skills, to put their learning into practice and to attend off the job training as part of normal working hours.
  • Provide training within the salon environment. If there are quiet times in the salon, use them to work with the Apprentice so they can learn from you or other salon staff.
  • Spend time with the training provider at each visit to discuss the apprentice’s progress and complete any paperwork requirements to enable the training to be funded.
  • Take a full and active role in the skills development of the apprentice – the more interest you show, the more progress your Apprentice will make
  • Work with the apprentice and the training provider to ensure skills are developed at a pace that suits everyone.

You should expect your Apprentice to:

  • Take full advantage of all skills and training opportunities in the salon and the training provider.
  • Complete all work to a high standard and learn about the industry.
  • Ask for help when needed.
  • Watch others working in the salon and ask questions.

You should expect your training provider to:

  • Deliver a training programme that suits the needs of you and the apprentice.
  • Assess and train in the salon if possible – they need to see your Apprentice working in real situations, not just in college.
  • Provide training materials.
  • Communicate regularly with you and your apprentice.
  • Ensure everyone knows what’s expected and by when.

How the NHF can help

The NHF has published a guide to apprenticeships for hairdressing and barbering employers. It also provides free practical and easy-to-read health and safety guides for hairdressing salons, barber shops and beauty salons – this is important as your college or training provider has a duty to look after their Apprentices by making sure they are in a safe and healthy workplace. Click here to view this.

On top of this, NHF members have access to free contracts for apprentices (with different ones for England, Scotland, Wales and N Ireland!) Members receive regular updates on key changes that are likely to affect your business e.g. changes to the National Minimum Wage or to Apprenticeships e.g. new training programmes and funding updates.


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

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