3 June 2014

The NHBF has expressed concern about outline plans published by the government about what it will expect salons to pay towards the cost of new, employer-led apprenticeships when they are rolled out from next year.

In a briefing document, the government has said that employers will have to pay one third of the cost of training young people - £1 from employers for every £2 the government puts in.  There will be 5 funding bands which set out the maximum government funding depending on the sector, but it has not yet been announced which band hair and beauty will fall into or when that decision will be made. 

As NHBF member, Barbara McNaughton from Elements in Oxted said, ‘I currently employ 8 Apprentices in my salon.  I struggle to see how it’s feasible for a high street business to build in the additional cost of employer contributions, on top of the wages we already pay our Apprentices.  Many of the smaller salons will simply stop taking on Apprentices.’

On the plus side, there will be additional government support, including extra payments on completion of an apprenticeship, an “incentive payment” for small business with fewer than 50 employees, and incentives for taking on people aged between 16-18.  The government will continue to fully fund training in maths and English.

But the NHBF has expressed disquiet as it has only just found out from the government that industries which are developing “trailblazer” standards will also be expected to pilot the funding reforms.

Hellen Ward, managing director of Richard Ward Hair and Metrospa, is heading the strategic group on hairdressing, while George Hammer, chairman of beauty salon Urban Retreat, is heading the strategic group for beauty, with both supported by expert working groups. The trailblazer process is being led within the industry by the Federation and sector-skills body Habia.

Hellen said:

Our trailblazer group was unaware our sectors would be piloting these funding reforms, and it is a concern to us that the government kept us in the dark about such an important development. This process needs to be open, honest and transparent if we are to achieve what I know is everyone’s ultimate aim – an apprenticeship system that is fit for purpose and fit for the modern world of work.”


NHBF chief executive Hilary Hall added there remained deep concerns within the industry about the direction of the government’s funding reforms, not least the worry that forcing employers and training providers to negotiate on funding could create a marketplace where education provision is driven by cost and price rather than quality.

Many employers were also deeply concerned about the extra administrative burden of having to manage funding, plus the effect that being forced to make a cash contribution to training cost will have on the appetite, or ability, of salons to take on apprentices.

We have stressed throughout the standards development process that trailblazer standards and funding reforms are, or should be, separate issues. Now it appears they are, in fact, linked. In a sector where there are already major reservations about the funding reforms, this is unhelpful and risks damaging the sector’s engagement with the new “trailblazer” standards.”