‘Trailblazer’ salons to shape the future of apprenticeships

Habia Logo 2011


As we pass the half way stage of National Apprenticeship Week 2014, SkillsActive welcomes the news that hairdressers, barber shops and beauty salons are to be at the forefront of the next wave of government apprenticeship “trailblazers” helping to map out the future of apprenticeship training.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills this week announced its second wave of trailblazer employers who will work to develop and test new models for more employer-based and employer-led standards for apprenticeships.

The ambition is to develop apprenticeships that can be explained on a single sheet of A4, work for both small and large businesses and which, crucially, will include relevant, practical testing and grading at the end of the training.

A “strategic group” of 10 individual trailblazer hair, beauty and barbering salons or salon chains, all leaders in their fields, have been drawn from a broad mix across the industry, drawing on employer groups already working with the National Hairdressers’ Federation and the industry standards setting body, Habia, part of the SkillsActive Group. 

Hellen Ward, managing director of Richard Ward Hair and Metrospa, will be leading the strategic group on hairdressing, and George Hammer, chairman of beauty salon Urban Retreat, who will be doing the same for beauty

This strategic group will be supported by working groups in hairdressing, barbering and beauty, again represented by highly respected salon owners ranging from small businesses to larger chains.

The National Hairdressers Federation and Habia will provide practical support in terms of the secretariat, arranging meetings and helping to write the apprenticeship standards and developing ‘trade tests’, assessments done at the end of the apprenticeship programme. 

The work is supported by a wide range of other industry organisations, including the Fellowship of British Hairdressing, the Hairdressing Council, the British Barbers Association, BABTAC, City & Guilds and VTCT.

The trailblazers are a key element of the government’s ambitions, in the wake of the 2012 Richard Review, to develop and introduce new structures for apprenticeships during 2015/16 and 2016/17.

Stuart Turner, Group Director of Qualifications and Standards for Habia and SkillsActive said: “We’re pleased to see the second wave of Trailblazers includes service industries and also a sector which is dominated by small and micro-businesses. Habia has been the industry standards setting body for over 26 years and to be asked by the employers to be part of this exciting new proposal is an absolute honour.”  

Hellen Ward said: “This is a hugely exciting time for apprenticeships. What the government is doing chimes with what the NHF and others have been saying for years – that apprenticeships need to be simpler, more employer-based and equip young trainees for the realities of life on the salon floor.”

George Hammer said: “The trailblazer reform programme is a massive opportunity for our industry to create meaningful, relevant apprenticeships. It is about ensuring employers can be confident apprentices have the basic skills they need, so making them vastly more attractive as future employees.”

NHF chief executive Hilary Hall said: “We are absolutely delighted NHF members will be at the heart of our industry’s involvement in the government’s reform agenda for apprenticeships, both in terms of being trailblazers themselves and in helping to lead the working groups.”

A first wave of trailblazer employers was announced last October, covering eight sectors: aerospace, automotive, digital industries, electro-technical, energy, financial services, food and drink, and life and industrial sciences.