1. Background context- the current hair and beauty landscape

1. Economic impact

Over 130,000 people were employed in hairdressing and barbering in 2019 in England and 87% were female. The beauty sector employed almost 70,000 people in 2019 and 92% were female 

The hair and beauty industry generated over £8 billion in turnover in for the UK economy in 2018. British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology (BABTAC) note that this equates to at least 8% of the total value generated by the retail sector 

The National Hair and Beauty Federation (NHBF), the British Beauty Council (BBC) and the Hair and Barber Council  in conjunction with British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology (BABTAC) set out impressive industry statistics with further detail regarding the economic benefits these sectors bring to the economy.  

The 2019 Office for National Statistics data outlined that there are over 35,000 VAT and/or PAYE based hairdressing and other beauty treatment enterprises in England, and a total of 43,500 in the UK. Almost all these UK businesses (94%) employ less than 10 people. 

In 2017, the Office for National Statistics’ Annual Population Survey showed 40% of ‘Hairdressers and Related Services’ employees now work for a different employer than the year before which indicates there is a high level of movement between employers. This is higher when compared with movement between employers in other occupations such as ‘Caring Personal Services’ (31.9%) and ‘Leisure and Travel Services’ (25.7%) The average across all occupations is 29.3%. It is therefore vitally important that skills training in this sector and the resulting levels of competence are reliable and consistent to ensure that employers are confident that a new employee has the appropriate level of skill for the occupation.   

During the review, employers commented that the UK is seen as a hub of excellence with international clients travelling for hair and beauty treatments. This contributes to the UK’s GDP. There are also opportunities for those who are trained in the UK hair and beauty to work overseas, but also to attract international students.  

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on both the hair and beauty sectors in 2020 and 2021. NHBF’s research with economic analysts noted that their sectors had over 140 days where they were in lockdown and unable to trade, reporting an an average loss in turnover of 45% in 2020. Once trading again, social distancing measures limited their operational capacity significantly and full-time equivalent employment numbers were 21% down when compared to 2019 figures. In 2021, turnover continues to suffer because of COVID-19, the February 2021 NHBF published industry report notes that some businesses (on average) being out-of-pocket by £41,000. The downturn is likely to disproportionately affect females, as the report highlights that only 12 per cent are male workers. 

The sectors worked incredibly hard to meet government guidelines, further enhancing their pre-existing hygiene practices and making changes to services and treatments to safeguard their staff and clients. The sectors continue to demonstrate how entrepreneurial and responsive to change they are. The Hair Council and Barber Council provided support throughout the pandemic to businesses, including a ‘back-to-work’ plan in 2020 that provided guidance on re-opening following the easing of the first lockdown and support beyond that for both hairdressers and barbers. In addition, many other organisations including NHBFthe hair and beauty industry authority (HABIA) and BABTAC provided support and guidance during the pandemic. 

The Institute understands that many businesses may be hesitant about taking on new apprentices whilst they recover financially from the pandemic. We are committed to finding ways to support the delivery of technical education – including apprenticeships that bring enormous benefits to the Hair and Beauty sector.  

2. The market 

We researched the hair and beauty market prior to COVID-19. However, we still would like to highlight that we observed that the market at the time could be characterised as diverse and complex, with no ‘one size fits all’ business model apparent before or during the pandemic. We understand that the market will continue to evolve moving forwards and we know that the average number of apprentice starts in the route decreased in the academic year 20219/2020 compared with the previous academic year,  

DfE’s September 2021 published statistics for the route show that since the academic year 2016/2017, there have been over 25,500 apprentices start on apprenticeship standards in the route. Over 90 per cent of apprenticeship starts within the route are on the hair professional (level 2). The figures for 2020/2021 are provisional and cover the first three quarters (Aug 2020 to Apr 2021). All other years are final, full-year figures. 

In addition, the route review was conducted during the approach to exiting the European Union (Brexit). Whilst Brexit may create domestic opportunities for some businesses, we know that it will also bring fresh challenges for a range of sectors. It is difficult to evaluate the full impact at this point in time. We will continue to monitor and consider the impacts of Brexit with our route panel employers and more widely to do what we can to reflect emerging needs in technical education. 

Some key factors we observed during the review included:  

Workforce, training and regulation 

  1. Over 90% of hairdressing, barbering and beauty businesses are micro businesses that employ less than 10 people. The Office for National Statistics’ NOMIS official labour market statistics base this on businesses registered for VAT and/or PAYE. There are still a number of larger chains that employ much higher numbers of staff. In addition to working for an employer, many in the sector are self-employed and may work from home, have a mobile business or ‘rent a chair’ in a salon.  
  2. There remains a mixed economy of individuals that operate within the sector leading to varied quality of service. Whilst many businesses and employers are rigorous in who they employ, how they train their employees and their health and safety practices, jobs in the route are self-regulated. There are not restrictions on who can provide hair and beauty treatments to clients. Variation in client experiences does exist alongside and there could be greater clarity for consumers about available follow-up actions if they received services or treatments of an inadequate quality standard. Anecdotally, often clients may wrongly believe that services they are paying for are regulated. People are often very trusting and may not enquire about a person’s qualifications and/or training. This review observed that professional training can often be less formalised for some services too; for example, those specialising in non-European hair types.  

The Institute’s occupational standards ensure that there is good quality training that that ensures safe practices are carried out, both in terms of an employee’s own safety but also in terms of the delivery of services and treatments to clients. HABIA consult with employers and stakeholders within the UK on National Occupational Standards (NOS), which are different from the Institute’s occupational standards that inform technical education in England. In July 2016, the then Minister of State, Department for Education (Robert Halfon) officially transferred the UK Government’s interest in NOS and the NOS database to the Devolved Administrations of Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. The database is now collectively funded and governed by the Devolved Administrations and is managed on their behalf by Skills Development Scotland. NOS are available for employers, learners and other stakeholders to access freely, regardless of which UK nation they reside or work in. 

  1. The Hair Council and Barber Council have a voluntary register that provides official recognition under the Hairdressers Registration ActIt aims to raise standards and improve professionalism within the hairdressing industry and encourages all hairdressers and barbers to join the UK Register of Qualified HairdressersIncreasing client awareness of the register may help to raise industry standards by influencing client choices. In addition to state registers, there are also membership associations and federations for consumers to access, such as the BABTAC and the Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT) that provide registers of practitioners that are suitably qualified.  
  2. The regulation of non-surgical cosmetic procedures. Some treatments have specific requirements regarding who can perform the different modalities. For example, micro-needling and injectables can only be carried out by someone that is over 18 years of age. In addition, the Botulinum Toxin and Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Act 2021 provides provisions regarding the administration to those under the age of 18 of botulinum toxin and of other substances for cosmetic purposesMany in the industry would like to see further regulation in non-surgical cosmetic procedures, which could lead to changes in the training needed for particular occupations. In addition, there is also an all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on beauty, aesthetics and wellbeing established in 2019 that seeks to explore industry challenges and how government action may help overcome these. In 2020, the APPG issues a call for evidence for an enquiry into non-surgical cosmetic procedures in the UK. JCCP currently have a 10-point plan for safer regulation in the aesthetic sector. Membership association BABTAC, HABIA and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), amongst others, also support improved regulations. 
  3. Vulnerable workers. In 2018, The Telegraph newspaper ran a report on modern slavery and found that nail salons and barbers are two industries where high numbers of vulnerable workers may be exploited and forced to work long hours. The beauty sector is working hard to raise client awareness of this and inform them how they can choose salons that do not exploit their workers. Reputable businesses can help by recruiting staff that have developed their occupational competence through regulated professional qualifications and apprenticeships can help to raise the standard within industry. 
  4. Framework-based apprenticeships continued to be a popular choice even when apprenticeship standards became available in recent years. This created varied levels of quality in the training provision. From August 2020, new apprentices could only start on an apprenticeship standard. This ensures that the quality bar for hair and beauty professionals continues to be raised and apprentices are occupationally competent on completion of their apprenticeship. 

The clients 

  1. An organisation’s client base has been traditionally reliant on existing client loyalty, but social media and wider online presence now provides opportunities for businesses to grow their client base. Clients increasingly promote businesses that they visit and enjoy by ‘checking in’ to a location, ‘liking’ and/or ‘following’ those businesses. This has created new ways of promoting services or treatments offered to, alongside client reviews and photographs. As a result, there is a growing need for those working in hair and beauty to also be competent in digital skills to help promote the businesses they work for.
  2. Some people may find it more difficult to find a hairdresser or barber that is able to offer services and treatments to suit their hair type(s). There continues to be a perception that the majority of high street hairdressers and barbers’ establishments do not cater for all clients. As a result, many businesses that specialise in, for example, textured hair are in demand. However, when the local demand is low, people often travel long distances to have their hair cut or styled. Training within these specialist establishments is less likely to have followed the traditional route to becoming professionally trained, as historically traditional training has not included the full breadth of client needs. A range of organisations are supporting improved knowledge of different hair types. For example, NHBF have a blog on hair types. 

As communities become more diverse, establishments will need to offer services to clients with a more diverse range of hair types. By comparison, the beauty sector is already seen to treat the full range of skin types in mainstream establishments.  

3. Perceptions of the hair and beauty sectors 

Historically, there has been a perception bias relating to occupations within the hair and beauty route. Potential apprentices are sometimes discouraged from considering the route’s occupations by schools’ careers services or family members. This has potentially hindered employers’ ability to attract new talent. However, the reality is that hair and beauty occupations can offer high earning potential.  

The UK is held in high regard internationally for its hair and beauty professions. The WorldSkills competitions set out the knowledge and skills that underpin international best practice in technical and vocational performance. In the international WorldSkills competitions, the UK’s young trainee professionals in Hair and Beauty have been very successful. In 2019, in Kazan in Azerbaijan, the UK competitor Phoebe McLavy achieved the bronze medal in Hairdressing and Rebecca West achieved the gold medal in Beauty Therapy. 

More information for the hairdressing and beauty therapy can be found on their websites linked. WorldSkills has 84 member countries that compete every two years in 56 different skills. The next competition is scheduled to take place in Shanghai in September 2022 (postponed due to the pandemic).  

Going forward, employers and the Institute need to proactively seek to improve and celebrate the contribution the route’s occupations make to the economy – particularly as the sectors recover from the impacts that COVID-19 has had on their businesses. The first lockdown in 2020 highlighted to the public just how important access to hair and beauty services are to people, including from a personal welfare perspective. It remains important to ensure that established and out of date perceptions are dispelled. We hope to help achieve this through:   

  • Positive promotion. Increasing positive stories and promoting achievements relating to hair and beauty sectors in the media, providing facts and statistics that continue to reinforce their significant contributions to the economy, and to support economic recovery of their businesses. There are also opportunities to promote the high earning potential of the route’s occupations and how the public relies on the services and treatments provided. In addition, the sectors promote cyclical footfall to the high-street, supporting increased custom to other businesses too.  
  • Improved knowledge of progression opportunities. There are opportunities to develop the route’s professional (level 6 and above) occupational standards. For example, ‘non surgical aesthetic practice practitioner’. Individuals may also progress onto apprenticeships in other routes. For example, a qualified hairdresser could do a retail manager (level 4) apprenticeship that is within the sales, marketing and procurement technical route. In addition, when the route’s T Level is available for first teaching in September 2023, they will provide a foundation for many learners to progress to higher level technical education opportunities. The Institute has started to develop T Level progression profiles for T Levels with first teaching in September 2021, and we anticipate this will be expanded to other routes with T Levels in due course. 
  • Increased awareness of the complexity of the occupations. Hair and beauty occupations require significant STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) knowledge and skills. For example, to understand chemical processes and reactions in hairdressing or when using treatment equipment that relies on LED (Light-Emitting Diode) current types. 

4. Apprenticeships 

Importance of apprenticeships for the sector 

Traditionally, the hair and beauty route has heavily relied on on-the-job training and apprenticeships are the well-established route into the sector. Both the legacy framework apprenticeships and the current apprenticeships (based on occupational standards), have a significant number of school leaver entrants and current apprentices. Many apprentices have therefore never been in a work environment before starting their apprenticeship. We heard that often the apprentices need significant support from their employer and training provider when making the transition from a school environment.  

In the academic year 2019/2020just over 91were employed by businesses that had 49 or less employeesalmost 5% had between 50 and 249 employees and just over 3% had over 250 employees.  


Employers have told us that progression within this route can usually be achieved through more generic courses once an individual has learnt the key knowledge, skills and behaviours obtained through level 2 apprenticeships. For example, a course in a specific beauty treatment or by taking qualifications at the level above their apprenticeship. Someone may undertake qualifications in business management for instance if they want to run their own salon and have already completed a level 3 apprenticeship in advanced beauty therapy. The route’s apprenticeships available for delivery at level 2 are:  

Apprentices may then progress on to a level 3 apprenticeship in the route, such as the advanced beauty therapistadvanced and creative hair professional or Wellbeing and holistic therapist. 

A key challenge for the route and its occupations is that they have been perceived as low skilled in comparison to other routes and their occupations. This underestimates the breadth and depth of knowledge, skills and behaviours required to be considered occupationally competent in hair and beauty occupations. These occupations are supported by in-house training, and the commitment of employers to develop the future pipeline of talent to ensure they maintain high-quality service and treatment provision for clients.   

Switching from framework to apprenticeships standards 

Framework apprenticeships in the route were popular in providing some of the skills that employers needed. However, employers reported that individuals that had completed the frameworks still required additional training before they could be confident that they were ‘salon-floor ready’. The ‘tick-box’ nature of frameworks reportedly meant employers could not see the apprentices practically applying their knowledge – something that is fundamental to hair and beauty occupations. 

The new apprenticeships have been welcomed as they have raised the quality bar and provide employers with greater assurance about the knowledge, skills and behaviours being mastered by apprentices across England. The standards now provide more detailed information on what an apprentice will learn and become competent in. Training received is both more substantive and consistent across training provision. 

Employers recognise there is still much more to be done to increase the awareness and credibility of apprenticeships within the sector. When the review was conducted, before COVID-19 lockdowns, there was still a need for greater clarity regarding the roles and responsibilities of employers and training providers in delivering apprenticeships (including for assessments). Many of the employers within the sector are micro and small businesses, consultation feedback during the review highlighted that many are less familiar with the requirements and the government policy developments. This means they are likely to need additional support to onboard new apprentices and, in the future, T Level learners undertaking industry placements with employers. Small businesses may have less time and resources available to keep informed of changes in government policy, relying instead on their local college or training provider to guide them through important changes.  

2. Technical education provision and occupational maps

Across the hair and beauty technical education landscape, there are a variety of options for learners to choose from.  

Occupational map  

Apprenticeships and T Level qualifications are based on occupational standards. The standards set out the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to be fully competent in any occupation. The occupational standards are the foundation for the Institute’s technical education programmes within the route. An apprenticeship would require the appropriate on-programme and end-point assessments to be developed, utilising the relevant occupational standard as its foundation. The hair and beauty occupational map can be found on our website 

The maps group occupations with related knowledge, skills and behaviours into pathways, making it easier to see the opportunities for career progression within that route. Within each pathway, occupations at the same level are grouped into clusters, to show how skills learnt can be applied to other related occupations. 

The occupational map is owned by the Institute’s route panel which is made up of industry experts. Route panels use the maps to support decision making on occupational standards, T Levels and route reviews. The map enables the panel to identify additional occupations that need to be developed or which need to be merged with others or withdrawn. 

A key part of this review was to consult on the hair and beauty occupational map to ensure that the hair, beauty and aesthetics pathway represents the correct grouping of occupations. Changes were made to the route’s occupational map in January 2021, when the route review’s summary report was published. 

Up to level 3  

In this route learners who take up to a level 3 apprenticeship or qualification will learn the fundamental knowledge skills and behaviours that they will use throughout their career. The options available to learners currently are:  


An apprenticeship is a great way to secure a successful future, and to develop professional skills from technical levels 2 and 3 through to professional apprenticeships at levels 6 and beyond – enabling career progression. 

Occupational standards need to meet the Institute’s current criteria and policy requirements.  

There are 7 occupational standards available for delivery in the route. On completion of an apprenticeship, an apprentice will be fully competent in that occupation, and employers have indicated they will be considered ‘salon-floor ready’.  

The 7 occupational standards approved for delivery are: 

  1. Level 2 Beauty and make up consultant    
  2. Level 2 Beauty therapist 
  3. Level 2 Hair professional 
  4. Level 2 Nail services technician 
  5. Level 3 Advanced and creative hair professional 
  6. Level 3 Advanced beauty therapist 
  7. Level 3 Wellbeing and holistic therapist 

An apprentice would become occupationally competent through practical on-the-job training, this represents 80% of an apprentice’s training time. The remaining 20% off-the-job training is usually taken in a college or with a training provider. Apprenticeships are no longer limited to those aged under 25 years and will appeal to those who prefer hands-on training and being in a work setting for the majority of the time.  

In this route, apprentices will learn the fundamental knowledge and skills at levels 2 and 3 and will have the opportunity to progress onto higher level apprenticeships or other higher level technical education programmes. 

For the hair professional (level 2) that was included in this route review, we recognised the need to allow additional time for the trailblazer group to update the occupational standard given the unprecedented challenges faced by the sector due to COVID-19. The trailblazer group plan to submit separate occupational standards, in line with the route review’s recommendations, for hair professional (level 2) and barbering professional (level 2) for Institute approval by early 2022. 

We need to make sure apprenticeships reflect modern models of employment and work for all employers in the sector. We are introducing changes to make apprenticeships more flexible and portable than before. This includes flexible training models, with a broader range of options for delivering off-the-job training, including 'front-loading' blocks of training at the beginning of an apprenticeship. In addition, some apprentices may be able to accelerate their apprenticeship, adjusting the content and duration of their apprenticeship training plan in recognition of prior learning. This enables employers to think creatively in how they tailor and deliver off-the-job training to suit their needs, working with providers and apprentices to get the right blend of training for them with high-quality outcomes. An example of where this is currently being applied can be found here. 

T Levels

T Levels are new two-year technical study programmes, equivalent to 3 A Levels and are delivered in schools and colleges. The content of the qualifications is developed from the knowledge skills and behaviour statements from the occupational standards on which apprenticeships are based. T Levels provide sufficient training in one or more occupations to enable a learner to enter skilled employment. 

The T Level programme includes: 

  • Technical knowledge and skills specific to an industry or occupation 
  • An industry placement of at least 45 days in the aligned industry or occupation 
  • Relevant maths, English and digital skills. 

T Levels will become one of three major options for students to study at level 3. T Levels are 80% provider based, and 20% Industry based  

For the hair and beauty Route, there is one T Level that will be available for learners to start from September 2023 onwards. The hair, beauty and aesthetics T Level will have three occupational specialisms: hairdressing, barbering and beauty therapy. These specialisms are aligned to the following occupational standards:   

  1. Advanced and creative hair professional (level 3) 
  2. Advanced beauty therapist (level 3) 
  3. Beauty therapist (level 2) 
  4. Hair professional (level 2) 

The aim is that both apprenticeships and T Levels will be able to provide an individual with viable routes into an occupation, recognising that individuals benefit from different types of learning. 

The availability of the distinct options for prospective learners to gain the relevant knowledge, skills and behaviours will mean that employers have a wider pipeline of prospective employees. This will reduce the overall training cost for employers. Within this review we have recommended there should be a separate barbering occupational standard. The new T Level already contains a barbering specialism that will be assessed at level 3. The hair trailblazer intends to develop a barbering occupational standard at level 3, this would allow for greater alignment with the T Level. We will work with the awarding organisation delivering the T Level to ensure that this review’s recommendations are considered during the development of the T Level qualification. 

More information on T Levels can be found on our website and on tlevels.gov.uk. Our website has the final outline content for the hair and beauty: hair, Beauty and Aesthetics T Level 

Levels 4 and 5 – Higher Technical Qualifications 

Higher Technical Qualifications are level 4 or 5 qualifications that have been quality marked by the Institute to indicate their alignment to employer-led occupational standards. New or existing level 4 or 5 qualifications submitted to the Institute’s approvals process will receive a quality-mark if the qualification satisfies our approvals criteria. Higher Technical Qualifications align to existing occupational standards, providing learners with entry-level competence and allowing them to enter their chosen profession or progress onto higher education. 

 There is a growing demand for skills at levels 4 and 5 from employers and students. The number of learners taking qualifications at level 4 and 5 is low compared to other countries and other levels of education. 

 For Higher Technical Qualifications, we have put in place an employer-led approvals process, building on our experience and expertise of approving apprenticeships and T Levels. We will compare the qualifications submitted to employer-designed occupational standards which set out the knowledge, skills and behaviours an individual should achieve to be deemed competent in an occupation. Where a qualification is aligned to the standard, meets any relevant regulatory requirements, and provides the knowledge, skills and behaviours for entry into the occupation it will be approved by the Institute to use the quality mark.   

 The approval of Higher Technical Qualifications will initially be organised on a route-by-route basis. The first approval process started in September 2020 and focused on qualifications that aligned to occupations in the digital route. The first digital Higher Technical Qualifications will be taught from September 2022.  

 Hair and beauty Higher Technical Qualifications are currently scheduled for launch in cycle 4 in 2023 with the intention for first teaching from 2025. More information regarding Higher Technical Qualifications and the planned approvals rollout is on our website. 

Future route reviews 

We have also now published full reports for creative and design and agriculture, environmental and animal careWe are aiming to publish the full report for engineering and manufacturing this autumn. 

 The Institute is making changes to how it conducts route reviews in the future. The new approach is currently being piloted in the construction route and further details are available on our website. Further to this, any changes needed to individual occupational standards outside of the route review will be done using the revisions, adjustments and dispensations process. More information on this can be found on our website. 

3. Future of the hair and beauty route

The review considered the route’s future skills requirements and how these may impact technical education provision going forward.  

The key principles for the hair and beauty route 

The route panel were asked to develop a set of key principles for the route, identifying core elements that should be included in all hair and beauty occupational standards, applicable to apprenticeships and the route’s T Level. More information on what is meant by occupational standards is available on our website. The route panel will work to share these with trailblazer groups, so that these core elements are considered in future developments. The principles are: 

  • Equalities/ diversity and inclusion. There is a need to promote the occupations available in this route to a broader and more diverse audience to help ensure that there are equal opportunities to pursue education, training and jobs in the route’s sectors. There is also a need to promote improved awareness and ensure that there is comprehensive provision of hair and beauty services and treatments that are fully inclusive of all clients. 

As far as possible, the language used within occupational standards should also be gender-neutral, to ensure that technical education programmes are as accessible as possible to individuals from all backgrounds. Inclusive language will help ensure an occupation appeals to the widest possible audience. On our website we have guidance on both language readability and gender-neutral language to help support employers to use plain English and gender-neutral language.  

  • Legislation /regulation. There is a need for improved regulation, notably within the aesthetics sector and its non-surgical procedures/treatments, for example, Botox and cosmetic fillers. In developing, approving and delivering technical education, industry best practice and current regulations should be factored in.  

The Hair Council and Barber Council provide a state register of Qualified Hairdressers and Barbers, registration is not mandatory. The Beauty sector does not currently have a similar state register for beauty professionals. Having state registers may provide customer reassurance regarding the training providers have undertaken and recognition under the law. 

Hair, beauty and aesthetics practitioners continue to develop enhanced health and safety practices, as demonstrated in 2020 and 2021, which clients have become increasingly concerned about when making their consumer choices. Those who are training in industry, including through an apprenticeship, have a really important role to play in encouraging and demonstrating safe practices and behaviours to ensure the health and safety of their clients 

The Institute will continue to encourage trailblazer groups to incorporate health and safety in a way that makes its importance clear within occupational standards, technical qualifications and assessments.  

Characteristics to consider in the hair and beauty route  

In addition, the review established a number of general characteristics relevant to hair and beauty businesses and its occupations. These should be considered when developing and approving the route’s technical education programmes, and inform the knowledge, skills and behaviours included within occupational standards: 

  • Mixed economy of business sizes. While small businesses represent the majority of the enterprises within the sector, large businesses and the self-employed also operate in the sector. It is important that occupational standards and technical education programmes reflect the range of business types and sizes within the sector. COVID-19 could affect the composition of the market going forward. For example, in due course, it may become apparent that larger sized businesses were more resilient to the economic impact that COVID-19 had as a result of businesses being required to close for extended periods of time. The vast majority are micro and small businesses currently, and so the composition of the market may shift to see a greater proportion of larger businesses. 
  • A move to mixed treatment venues. Clients are increasingly seeking a range of treatments in one location. Those working in the sector may need to consider training across a range of treatments and services to meet this need.  
  • Sustainability. As clients increase their awareness of sustainability and environmental impact in areas such as carbon offsetting; reduced plastic waste; product ingredient choices and testing, this is likely to lead to a need for more information to be provided to consumers so they can make informed choices.  

The UK has a target to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, building a greener country in which skills will play a key part. The government is now planning to create and support 2 million high quality, green jobs by 2030 to support the UK to transition to net-zero. The Institute has set up a new green apprenticeships advisory panel (GAAP) to ensure that apprenticeships and technical education are front and centre of this ambition. A table of GAAP endorsed apprenticeships can be found via the government’s Green Jobs Taskforce. 

The approvals process for all technical education will ensure the needs of employers within the growing green economy are met. This includes the creation of new standards to reflect new occupations that may, for example, contribute to meeting the challenge to reach net carbon zero or considering how the content of an occupational standard may take account of the green economy where it is not the primary focus of an occupation.  

The Institute’s new sustainability framework is designed to support the inclusion of proportional sustainable development considerations in new and revised occupational standards at all levels. Trailblazer groups will be able to refer to the sustainability framework when developing an occupational standard to help include sustainable development considerations into Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours that are relevant for each occupation. 

Wherever possible, the Institute will also support the new Green Jobs Taskforce set up by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for Education to develop an action plan for creating the necessary new green jobs and skills. 

  • Shorter-term employment. As work becomes more flexible employees may move between employers more frequently; this highlights the need for maintaining high-quality training and levels of competence that can be sustained even with high employee turnover.  
  • Client awareness and technology. Increased use of technology by clients may lead to reduced loyalty as clients have greater access to different services/treatments from different salons or beauticians. Clients are also now better informed about products and styles based on their own research. Previously clients relied on the advice and expertise of the professional. Employers may need increasingly advanced knowledge to go beyond that of clients. 
  • Machine technology. The nature of services provided may change due to advances in the machinery used to deliver treatments and an increased demand for home-machines. For example, for hair removal, nail or facial/ skin treatments. 
  • Online business profiles. Increased company presence online through social media and websites, may increase the need for in-house employee sales and promotion skills. 

4. Annex A: Experience of working in hair and beauty

Charlotte Mensah

Charlotte Mensah from the Institute’s hair and beauty route panel gives her perspective on meeting the needs of Afro and textured hair clients 

Afro and texture market 

The Afro-Caribbean market is booming thanks to the fact that these clients typically spend eight times more on hair and beauty services, compared to their European hair counterparts. Female clients in particular place a strong emphasis on having the right treatments and products for their hair.  

The mixed-race hair market is also exploding and with over 3 million people across the UK now describing themselves as ‘mixed’. The mixed-race category is the second largest and fastest growing ethnic minority group. By learning how to look after different hair types, you’ll be prepared for the growing demand. 
If your salon joins forces with a specialist product partner, with products which are specifically created for Afro/mixed and curly hair types (described as type 3 or type 4 hair), you will also have the potential of boosting retail sales too. 

In this economic climate, few salons can afford to turn clients away. If you are trained in this market, you will be ready and confident to look after the hair of any potential client with Afro or mixed-race hair if they contact your salon. What is more, by actively promoting the fact that you cater for everyone, you will also attract a larger and more diverse client base. 

Increase your skills as a hairdresser through training 

 As an Afro and curly hair expert, it is great to be able to cater for all hair types and curl patterns. Just as you train in colour and extensions, for example, by having Afro hairdressing expertise you and your team will be demonstrating that you are all-round hair professionals. 

Have an advantage on the competition  

Unless you are based in a remote location, it is unlikely that you will be the only salon in your town/city/village. Expanding your menu means you have the potential to give your salon a unique selling point, as your competitors may not offer Afro services. 


Kyra, Dylan and Abigail tell their personal apprenticeship stories below: 

Kyra Dodsworth

Kyra Dodsworth – works at Hair Secrets, and was the Saks Apprenticeships Hairdressing level 2 Apprentice of the Year 2019 

headshot of kyraI’m currently a level 3 advanced and creative hair professional apprentice, having completed my level 2 hair professional apprenticeship last year. When I was 14 a lady that runs a youth group in my town helped me to write my CV, which I then took to about 20 hairdressing salons. My employer, Hair Secrets, gave me a trial whilst I was at school, and they later asked me if I would like to do my apprenticeship with them – which I said yes to, and started when I turned 16. 

I have always been interested in both hair and beauty, but I decided to go into the hair side. My favourite part of the job is talking to people because I am a bit nosy! I have also learnt a lot of life skills – much more than I ever did at school, even this week my boss was teaching me about mortgages. 

I think there is a misconception that hairdressing is for people that can’t do anything else – I was predicted A*s/ Grade 9s at GCSE, but I never actually took them, it just wasn’t right for me. There is lots of science and hard work involved in becoming a hairdresser. You can’t just open a book and choose a colour, for example, you need to understand the chemistry behind it and the techniques to apply a colour properly. 

My family have been behind me all the way. Lots of my school friends went on to college or to work with their parents – apprenticeships were not promoted in school and some parents discouraged their children from starting one. I think schools need to have more sessions on the benefits of apprenticeships – it has been the making of me.  

My biggest achievement so far has been winning the Saks Apprenticeships Hairdressing level 2 Apprentice of the Year 2019. I found out about the competition through a letter from SAKS, and there were three themes that I could choose from: Rio Carnival; Gay Pride and Great Britain – I chose the Rio Carnival one. I found a model and did trials with them, and creative a mood board for the competition in December, and I found out that I had won in February. I won a trophy, and I will have a professional photographer (who has worked with Kim Kardashian) that will photograph some of my work for my portfolio.  

Dylan Gritto

Dylan Gritto – Apprenticeship training with SAKS Bolton, now self-employed

I left school at 15 and when I turned 16 a few weeks later, I started my Level 2 hair professional apprenticeship that I then completed in 2019. I was the first person to get 100% in the end point assessment for that apprenticeship – that was a great personal achievement for me. I progressed onto the level 3 advanced and creative hair professional apprenticeship, which I completed in 2020  

For me, training through an apprenticeship was always going to be the right choice. I get to practice my skills on real clients, and I get paid at the same time, I learn on the job every day, rather than just working on dolls heads as I would be in college. Apprenticeships helped to build my confidence too, better preparing me to work on real clients – I am not embarrassed meeting new people.  

My family have been very supportive – they wanted me to do something that makes me happy. My mum was a hairdresser, so she knows what the job is like too. The level 3 allowed me to learn new techniques and work towards being a colour specialist – which is what I want to be before ultimately running my own business.  

I find other people’s work is a great inspiration, and I can gain knowledge from them too and apply this to my own clients’ needs. Influencers on Instagram are great to look at and see what they have achieved with a client. It is not just the creative side that I love, it’s getting to build relationships with people – understanding their lifestyles and gaining their trust in you to help them make decisions on their hair style together. 

Working is hairdressing is very rewarding, and achievements were recognised by my apprenticeship employer (SAKS) too. I was put forward for an award at events and winning positively reinforces all the hard work. The people I worked with at SAKS were great too and we learn from each other, adapting new and old techniques to get the best of both worlds. I’ve now taken the next step towards having my own business as I am now self-employed and rent-a-chair. 

I would definitely recommend doing an apprenticeship to friends and family; you learn whilst you get paid – there’s nothing not to love! 

Abigail Goble

Abigail Goble – previously worked at Powder Beauty Boutique in Brighton as a Level 2 beauty therapist apprentice. She was Saks Beauty Therapy level 2 Apprentice of the Year 2020 and now works for Beautifix as a level 3 wellbeing and holistic therapist apprentice. 

headshot of abigialI didn’t start my level 2 beauty therapist apprenticeship straight from school – I’m 27 and I had a professional dancing career previously. I’ve always been really into beauty and one day whilst I was getting my brows done – my beauty therapist said to me ‘you’re really young still’ and this encouraged me to think about starting an apprenticeship. I wanted something that I could really get my teeth into and enjoy; there’s lots of pressure to have an amazing job now and I knew that I wanted to spend time investing in my career and not just having a job that paid the bills. 

I also knew that I didn’t want to get into debt by going to college or university; I found my previous employer, Powder Beauty, online and earning whilst I learnt was ideal – it also meant I wasn’t going to be stuck behind a classroom desk. Being in a real salon environment and having 1-1 support with my teacher was ideal for me – I was not as confident in school, so I really appreciate that support. Employers respect apprenticeships too and recognise what you’re qualified to do once you’ve completed it. Being in a salon provides a great support network too, and you get to know how you each work, which I would not have got from a full-time college course. 

My dancing career was great, but I was living out of a suitcase and wanted to slow down my pace of life and have a work-life balance that allowed me to see my family – I’m one of 5 siblings. I was craving a normal life really. I was also diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis and I need to take daily medications and have injections every 6-weeks to keep it under control. Having any disability or illness can be challenging, especially when people cannot see it just by looking at you. Powder Beauty were amazing though – with a good routine, working Wednesday – Saturday and then having three days to rest meant I was able to go into remission. Being able to do an apprenticeship and manage my health is very important to me. 

I was awarded a distinction in my level 2 Beauty Therapist. During my apprenticeship I achieved my level 1 functional skills English and mathematics qualifications and also my diversity training. I did not enjoy maths at school, but beauty therapy enabled me to understand the maths through different contexts. Whilst doing the qualifications, I learnt about current affairs issues like Brexit and the Houses of Parliament – it’s really opened my eyes to a wider world that was previously outside of my comfort zone, so it’s built my confidence too. 

I also won SAKS Beauty Therapist level 2 apprentice of the year 2020, having been encouraged to enter the competition by my teacher at the time, Rae. I had to do beauty treatments that are included in the apprenticeship and take before and after photographs of the French manicure gel treatment that I had chosen to do. I also had to write a 500-word case study that explained in detail how I had got to the end outcome of the treatment. They also looked at my online portfolio and spoke to my teacher and manager. 

My level 2 apprenticeship was so wide-ranging, every day is so different – I was trained on all the treatments that the salon offered (not just those in the apprenticeship standard). This enabled me to be up to scratch with everything clients were offered. Training as a beauty therapist through an apprenticeship offered so much variety. I was also able to help people feel happy too – someone might not like a part of their body, or they might be having a tough time – and the job role was very much as therapist in the wider sense. Being able to communicate with people and make them feel at ease through the great customer service as key. 

Having finished my level 2 apprenticeship, I have progressed onto my current level 3 wellbeing and holistic therapist. As part of that, I am now studying for my level 2 functional skills English and mathematics qualifications. I have moved salons now work at Beautifix in my local town. I am really enjoying it so far, I feel very at home at the salon we are like a little family with a great welcoming Community. We even have two salon dogs that are the salons owners called Delilah and Daphne. Which all the clients love.