Spotlight on

Spotlight on: Apprenticeships in 2022 

Between the 7th and 13th of February 2022, the 15th annual week-long celebration of apprenticeships will take place.

The week brings together employers and apprentices from throughout the country to highlight the good impact apprenticeships have on individuals, businesses, and the economy as a whole.

The topic for National Apprenticeship Week 2022 will be 'create the future,' reflecting on how apprenticeships can help individuals develop the skills and knowledge necessary for a successful career, as well as businesses grow a talented workforce with future-ready talents.

Benefits of an apprenticeships in Hair and Beauty Industry

Apprenticeships are vital in providing clear long-term paths to skilled employment. The hair and beauty sector is significant, with employers covering every corner of the country, providing jobs and opportunities for lasting careers. Apprentices provide an opportunity for employers to ‘grow their own’ staff and develop a crucial talent pipeline for their business. Some of the benefits of hiring an apprentice in your salon or barbershop include:

  • Young apprentices can be among the most dedicated workers, bringing fresh perspectives, ideas, new skill sets into the workforce providing a positive influence on your business. This can result in increased efficiency and profitability.
  • You can instill your company’s ethos and culture from the start. This can help the apprentice to quickly integrate into your way of working and gain the skills and behaviours needed to develop and progress.
  • It can be simpler to train an apprentice who has not picked up 'bad habits' elsewhere.
  • 'Home-grown' apprentices tend to be loyal and more likely to stay on with their employer. They can progress and be promoted saving you time and money on recruitment costs.
  • Existing staff can gain new skills by mentoring and supporting apprentices.


“Job ready”

Apprenticeships, Traineeships, T Levels, and KickStart have all helped to revolutionise technical and vocational education in recent years, especially in the Hair and Beauty sector. With a vast array of programmes available is difficult for employers to understand what the right fit for their business is.

In the hair and beauty sector, programmes which contain regulated qualifications can be classified as either a “job ready” or preparation for work. “Job ready" qualifications are typically delivered "on the job" such as an apprenticeship. Once completed, an apprentice can demonstrate full job competence and work to commercial timings.

Preparation for work programmes which contain vocational, technical, and other general qualifications (VTQs), such as traineeships and T-Levels, are practical courses, prepare a learner to work in the sector, however further skill building (continuous practice) is required to develop “job ready” competence. NHBF blog spotlight on qualifications and training.

National Apprenticeship Week encourages individuals across the country to consider and celebrate how education can help people achieve the skills, knowledge and behaviours they need for a fulfilling career in the hair and beauty sector, as well as employers establish a future-ready workforce.


The decline of apprenticeships in the sector has been attributed partly to schools broadly promoting academic routes to school leavers. Growth in self-employed practitioners within hair and beauty has also significantly impacted self-employed individuals who rarely employ apprentices. The pandemic has played a part, as school leavers have received little or no careers advice or director leading to the decline young people currently in an apprenticeship in our sector.

There has been a significant decline in young apprentices coming into the hair and beauty sector in recent years. In 2019, in England, 9,932 hair apprentices were starting their careers in the hairdressing industry. In 2020, the numbers were significantly declining to 7,037.

The jump in cost in the second year for older learners greatly influences the apprentices they take on, reducing opportunities for those wishing to reskill. Salons avoid employing older apprentices as apprentices aged 19+ can only be paid at the apprenticeship rate for the first year of their apprenticeship, with the following year wage adjusting to the appropriate national minimum wage band for their age. This jump in wage cost to the employer can be £3,000 to £7,000, depending on the apprentice's age. This is simply unaffordable for many businesses when the apprentice is still in training and is unable to generate any income for the salon or barbershop.

The Government has shown a commitment to reskilling and training the UK's workforce as we come out of the pandemic. The Government's latest Skill Recovery Package, whilst welcomed, offered £3,000 to employers for each new apprentice they hire. With a typical 16-18yr old apprentice full-time wage for 24 months (the period of the apprenticeship) costing around £14,660 and a typical salary for an apprentice aged 19+ being about £20,800 – the £1,500-£2,000 funding provides little incentive for employers within the sector during this challenging financial period.

Note, from April 2022, Apprenticeship pay will go up from £4.30 to £4.81. But don’t be caught out: an apprentice over the age of 19 who is in the second year of their apprenticeship must be paid the age-appropriate NMW/NLW.

Barbers working in barbershop

NHBF Campaigning for you

The NHBF will continue to lobby the Government to discuss how we can get the best future apprenticeships. To address these barriers, as a sector, we are calling for:

Employers should be offered more appealing apprenticeship incentives to make it financially sustainable for them to keep and recruit future apprentices. As the self-employed model grows, more tailored incentives for SMEs, micro-businesses, and even the self-employed model will need to be available.

Small businesses account for 99.3% of total trade (100% of the hair and beauty sector) and three-fifths of UK employment, hence, there need to be affordable apprenticeship courses designed for them.

Funding to support the additional £4,000-£7,000 cost per apprentice to cover the extra six months that apprentices must undergo to catch up on their missed learning and complete their End Point Assessment.

To overcome the upcoming skills gap in the hair and beauty sector, more support and efforts focused on employing older apprentices who are considering retraining and entering the sector are needed. Employers' wage rates for older learners’ treble in the second year. This is a huge deterrent, especially at such a vulnerable and difficult time for businesses. Wages make up 50% or more of costs for most people in our sector (three in four), so changes to this significantly impact business costs.

Further increases in the apprenticeship rate should be held off until the sector has recovered. The NHBF survey revealed only one out of every five organisations that normally employ apprentices could rule out cutting the number of apprentices they hire in the coming year, with 63 percent certain they would have to do so. The increase in the apprenticeship rate was cited as the most common motive behind this, over and above the impact of COVID.

Cut throat shave

Diversity and inclusivity of hair types IN apprenticeships

There’s a lot of misunderstanding regarding how hair classification can be used, particularly in an apprenticeship – as the misconception is that apprentices don't learn about type four hair (very curl or coiled hair). The truth is, they can complete the Apprenticeship (in England) practical on any type hair and gain the knowledge of all hair types. For example, Francesco Group Wolverhampton is well established and is part of one of the largest award-winning salon groups in the UK. The salon is renowned for providing cutting, colouring and technical services to a diverse and inclusive community. During their apprenticeship, apprentices are trained in all four hair types while attending FG Education's Academy days. The four categories of hair types, the structure of the hair, density, porosity, and other topics would be covered in this course. They'd learn about the four hair types, how the hair feels, how to style it, how to condition it, what products to use, and the intricacies of each hair category.

The apprentice working in SG Hair has a lot of clients with Hair Types 3 and 4, but they still learn, engage, and practice on people with Hair Types 1 and 2. Likewise, the apprentice working in FG Wolverhampton is exposed to a clientele that is predominantly Hair Type 1 and 2 but still learns, engages and practices on people with Hair Types 3 and 4.

The apprentice then nears the end of their apprenticeship and prepares for the End Point Assessment (EPA). Here, the apprentice will be examined by an Independent Assessor whilst they carry out a variety of services on live clients. Both apprentices select clients for the end point assessment (EPA). As you would expect, each apprentice would choose the best client to showcase their hairdressing skills. One apprentice may decide to do Type 3 or 4 hair. Another might select Types 1 or 2 hair for this assessment of their talent.

Further information can be found in the NHBF blogs:

Hair types and apprenticeships
Do you know your hair type 

Standard authorities


The hair professional apprenticeship trailblazer group via the Institute  is responsible for the standards and ensuring that all hair types are included within the apprenticeship. A copy of the standards can be found on the Institute for Apprenticeship and Technical Education Website.

Devolved nations (Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales)

The updated National Occupational Standards will ensure that all hair types are included in the qualifications, such as the SVQ delivered to and undertaken by apprentices.

The NOS can be accessed via a collectively funded database governed by the devolved administrations and managed on their behalf by Skills Development Scotland.