10 December 2014

New employer-led standards for apprenticeships within hair and beauty, tax breaks for employers who take on young apprentices and a new apprenticeship funding model have the potential to transform training within the industry, the NHBF has said.

The Federation has welcomed the publication of the new standards, which have been created by employer ‘trailblazer’ groups covering hair and beauty, co-ordinated by the NHBF and the sector skills body Habia.

The standards are designed to ensure learners have the skills employers look for to make them ‘salon ready’ to work within the industry when they qualify.

The standards can found on the website for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and on the NHBF website:


 NHBF president Paul Curry said the standards needed to be seen as part of a bigger picture of support for apprenticeships by the government.

This includes the announcement in the Autumn Statement last week that from April 2016 salons which take on apprentices aged under 25 will no longer have to pay national insurance contributions (NICs) on their earnings and, from April 2015, will not have to pay employer NICs for any employee aged under 21.

The new standards have the potential to revolutionise apprenticeships within our industry, benefiting not only salons but creative, talented young people who see their future as being within hair and beauty,” he said.


The next stage for the standards is the development of practical and theory assessments for apprentices, work that is again being co-ordinated by the NHBF and Habia, working with awarding organisations, training providers and other industry associations.

A new funding model is also being developed alongside the standards, which will see salons being given control of training cash for the first time.  On the surface, this appears to be good news but there are concerns about whether the new funding model will increase the cost and administration of apprenticeships for employers. 

 The new model will be piloted for new ‘Trailblazer’ apprenticeship starts from now on, but as the new hair and beauty standards will not be available for delivery until September 2015 at the earliest, the funding pilot is an opportunity to address the concerns training providers and employers have.  With a general election in May 2015, it is possible that funding models and mechanisms may see further changes next year.

 The NHBF is therefore stressing that salons should not be put off taking on apprentices right now.

 “The tax breaks the government has announced, as well as schemes such as its Apprenticeship Grant for Employers in England which can contribute up to £1,500 towards the cost of taking on a first apprentice, have all made investing in a young trainee much more attractive,” added Paul Curry.

Details about the current grants and financial support available to salons can be found in the NHBF’s apprenticeships guide, available to members, at http://www.nhf.info/nhf-guides/

Hellen Ward, managing director of Richard Ward Hair and Metrospa, who led the strategic ‘trailblazer’ group on hairdressing, said:

The government deserves praise for having not only listened to employers, who have long argued apprenticeships in our industry were not ‘fit for purpose’, but for being prepared to do something about it.


“These standards will mean trainees keen to make their mark in our wonderful industry will now have the relevant skills they need to thrive in a busy salon environment. That can only be good news for salon owners and young people alike.”