Frequently Asked Questions


  • Trailblazers - What are they?

    Groups of employers responsible for setting apprenticeship standards in England: what an apprentice should know and be able to do before they are ready to work in hairdressing, barbering or beauty. The groups include large, medium and small employers and are supported by the NHF and Habia.

  • What's the difference between apprenticeship frameworks and standards?

    Apprenticeship frameworks are being phased out and replaced by ‘hair professional’ Trailblazer standards from May 2017.

  • Hair Standards

    The Trailblazer groups have developed apprenticeship standards at level 2 which have been approved and published by the government.

    The hair professional standards include:
    • Hairdressing

    • Barbering 

    The new standards are set at a higher level than the apprenticeship frameworks and include some knowledge, skills or behaviours which were at level 3 in the old frameworks, being phased out. www.gov.uk/government/publications/apprenticeship-standard-hair-professional

  • When will the new standards be available?

    The hair apprenticeship standards and the hair professional assessment plans are now published and are available for delivery from May 2017

  • What's different about the new apprenticeship standards?

    To achieve a hair professional apprenticeship, learners must successfully complete:

    • An end-point assessment carried out by an Independent Apprenticeship Examiner at the end of the apprenticeship, similar to a trade test.

    • A new qualification, the Diploma for Hair Professionals (Hairdressing / Barbering).

    • Maths and English functional skills at level 1 but learners must also take the level 2 functional skills tests (even if they don’t pass them). Learners who have achieved Maths and English GCSE at grade A*-C are exempted from functional skills.

    • Apprenticeships will be graded at pass or distinction level depending on the learner's performance in the end-point assessment.

    The qualification is assessed as learners progress through their apprenticeship programme. The final part of the qualification is the end-point assessment. Apart from the end-point assessment, all assessment will be carried out by the training provider/centre as specified by the Awarding Organisations.

  • How do I know what learners should be taught?

    The Employer’s Occupational Brief sets out the detailed information about what learners should be able to do and what they should know and understand for each part of the apprenticeship standards and for each unit of the Diploma for Hair Professionals (Hairdressing / Barbering).

    The Employer’s Occupational Briefs are available here for hairdressing and here for barbering.

  • What will it cost me as an employer?

    In England, Apprenticeship standards are allocated into one of 15 funding bands once assessment plans have been approved. For the hair professional standards, the funding band is set at Band 9 which means that the maximum government contribution is £7,000. For the Advanced Apprenticeship (Level 3 NVQ Framework) the Government contribution is £3000. 

    • Small employers (less than 50 employees) who take on 16-18 year olds, or those aged 19-24 who have been in care, or who have a local authority care plan will not pay anything towards the cost of apprenticeship training and assessment.

    • Any employer taking on 16-18 year olds or those aged 19-24 who have been in care, or who have a local authority care plan will also receive £1000 to support the additional costs of training these groups and the training provider will also receive £1000. The money is paid in two instalments, £500 after 3 months and the balance at 12 months.

    Unless they are small employers taking on 16-18 year olds, or those aged 19-24 who have been in care, or who have a local authority care plan employers will be required to pay 5% per apprentice.

    Contributions from employers must be in cash, not kind, but can be spread over time.

    Employers are expected to negotiate the price of training and assessment with training providers, so if you negotiate a price which is lower than the maximum allowed, your contribution will be 5% of the lower price you negotiate.

  • What does this mean for me?


    A medium sized employer eg 80 employees

    5% or £350 per apprentice 

    A medium sized employer eg 80 employees, taking on a 16-18 year old

    5% or £350 per apprentice. You and your training provider will each receive an incentive payment of £1000

    A small employer eg 10 employees, taking on a 16-18 year old

    Nothing. You and your training provider will each receive an incentive payment of £1000

    A small employer eg 10 employees, taking on a 24 year old

    5% or £350 per apprentice

  • Do I still need to pay the Apprenticeship National Minimum Wage?

    Yes. Employer contributions towards the cost of apprenticeship training and assessment are on top of the wages and any other employment-related costs you already pay for apprentices. Here’s a link to the minimum wage rates: www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates

    And don’t forget NHF members can download the NHF Guide to the National Minimum Wage and the National Living Wage which covers the hours you have to pay for, uniforms and equipment, deductions, apprenticeship contracts and more to give you confidence you’re paying correct rates. www.nhf.info/nhf-guides

  • How much of the Apprenticeship is off-the-job training?

    Employers must allow all apprentices to spend a minimum of 20% of their working week (eg 6 hours of a 30 hours working week) doing off the job training, either in the salon or with a recognised training provider, academy or college.

  • Will Apprenticeship agreements change?

    Yes. Anyone starting on the Trailblazer apprenticeships will need a new-style apprenticeship agreement, available free of charge from the NHF for members. Apprenticeship agreements must include a commitment statement to be signed by employers, apprentices and, for 15-17 year olds only, by parents/carers.

  • Will the AGE grant continue in England?

    No, from May 2017 it will be replaced with the new apprenticeship funding arrangements described above.

  • How will digital vouchers work?

    A digital voucher system will be introduced in England from May 2017 for levy-paying employers. Non-levy paying employers will continue to make payments direct to providers, moving onto the digital system at a later date (to be announced).


  • How long do the new apprenticeships last?

    The minimum duration is 372 days but can be typically longer and may in some cases take up to 2 years.

  • How are the new standards assessed?

    You will be assessed throughout your programme and apprentices must past 5 multiple choice question tests at 70% achievement or above. Additionally, you will carry out a number of summative assessment tests throughout your practical delivery. At the end of your learning journey you will undertake a synoptic practical test which lasts for 6 hours for hairdressing and 3 hours for Barbering.

    You will be graded passed or distinction for your end-point assessment.

  • Can learners retake the end-point assessment?

    Yes, but they must re-do the whole assessment. They cannot retake just parts of the assessment because it is a holistic assessment. At the time of writing, there is no time limit on the number of retakes. However, there will be additional costs for any retakes which are unlikely to be covered by funding.

    Employers are therefore strongly advised to enter learners for the end-point assessment only when they are confident that they are competent in all the skills, knowledge and behaviours required for the end-point assessment.

  • Who can carry out the end-point assessment?

    Independent Apprenticeship Examiners, appointed by Assessment Organisations, who have no connection with the learner, the employer or the training provider.

    For the hair professional standards, the Assessment Organisation must be an Awarding Organisation, regulated by Ofqual, because the end-point assessment is a compulsory part of the Diploma for Hair Professionals.

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