28 October 2013

The National Hairdressers’ Federation has welcomed government moves today to put employers “in the driving seat” of creating new standards for apprenticeships, but has urged ministers to work closely with organisations representing small and micro businesses to ensure apprenticeships work in future for businesses of all sizes.

To that end, the NHBF has today applied to become one of the government’s sector “trailblazers” to ensure the concerns and priorities of hairdressing and barbering are taken on board.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills document, the Future of Apprenticeships in England, has outlined how the government intends to implement the recommendations of the Richard Review of apprenticeships.

It has argued apprenticeship standards should be set by employers, with these new standards replacing the current frameworks. Such standards, it has added, should be short, accessible and easy to understand, with one standard for each occupation, and should meet the skills requirements of small businesses.

The government will set minimum criteria that all standards will need to meet and has said it will introduce a new grading system, of “pass”, “merit” or “distinction”. All apprenticeships will have to last for a minimum of one year and the requirement for English and maths will be “stepped up gradually”.

Importantly, employers will also be given a key role in developing assessment structures and mechanisms, with assessment primarily focused on end-of-course testing.

NHBF chief executive Hilary Hall said the government’s goal of simple, clear, independently assessed and employer-led apprenticeships echoed what hairdressers and barbers had been calling for for years.

The National Hairdressers’ Federation is delighted with today’s report. We also welcome its recognition that new-format apprenticeship standards must work for small businesses as well as large employers,” she said.


“The NHBF has long called for assessment independent of training, ideally through practical ‘trade tests’ at the end of a programme. Measures such as these will give employers greater confidence trainees will finish training ready for the hard reality of working in a salon,” she added.

However, the NHBF expressed disappointment the recommendations so far only cover England, even though the government has said it intends to share its approach with the devolved administrations.

“We would also have liked to have seen a longer minimum duration for training and we are concerned increasing the requirements for Maths and English could deter some talented youngsters from coming into hairdressing,” Hilary Hall added.

The NHBF has been leading a pan-industry “expert reference group” that has been working to creating a blueprint for future standards, the final report of which is due to be published in December.

Earlier this year, too, the NHBF published a “manifesto” for apprenticeships, which outlined a six-point plan for the development of more relevant, appropriate and employer-focused training qualifications.