The hair and beauty route review has provided an opportunity to reflect on the route and the technical education programmes within it, both in terms of what employers requires now and in the future. Hair and beauty businesses continue to evolve, both through innovations to better meet client their own needs and also to meet wider requirements, such as introducing enhanced hygiene practices to keep everyone as safe as possible. Reviewing and updating the occupations and technical education provision within the route is a way to ensure that what is available to employers and learners is up to date, relevant and most importantly meets their needs.

As both a business owner and chair of the Hair and Beauty Route Panel for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, I have seen the impact and disruption that COVID-19 has had on every part of our lives. That said, I am thankful that I work in a sector that is entrepreneurial and energetic. It is filled with innovation, and continually responds to an ever-changing marketplace.

While many salons have had to close as industries contract, I ask myself: is this an opportunity to make some changes? Could, and should, there be a greater focus on apprenticeships and technical education to support sectors in its recovery from the effects of COVID-19? What might this mean for the industry?

As sectors emerge from this pandemic, I believe we will see a shift in where the industry’s new starters are coming from. With a potential move away from a largely school leaver base, it seems likely that there will be an increase in the number retraining. This may be while earning on an apprenticeship or taking a qualification that gives them a great foothold in their new chosen career.

In the past, apprenticeships and technical education has been seen as the poor cousin of A Levels and degrees, but they are more than equal. Yes, the new apprenticeships and the ‘hair, beauty and aesthetics’ T Level offer quality assurance, but more than that, the amount of thought, work and skill put into upgrading skill sets is huge. Seeing the desire to learn and the implied commitment by the learners is essential for those recruiting new talent.

I believe the new apprenticeships and T Levels are a great way forward, not only in our sector, but across the board in the country. They provide practical insight and experience, give new talent the confidence to make waves and offer the sector a new talent pipeline. The new T Level in hair, beauty and aesthetics is due to start in September 2023 and I believe both this, and apprenticeships, in the route will provide the right education as the economy starts to regrow.