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Considering employing a nail/beauty apprentice? Here’s what you need to know

By Rebecca Hitchon | 27 May 2024 | Business, Expert Advice, Feature, Training

Nail Salon General Pic

The UK government’s Spring Budget at the start of March prompted dismay from industry bodies for its silence on support for apprentices. However, positive news came later in the month when the government announced plans to fully fund the cost of apprenticeships for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

So, why are apprenticeships beneficial?

“With apprenticeships open to applicants aged 16 upwards, they provide clear direction and motivation to those who know they want to pursue a career in the beauty, holistic and wellbeing industries,” notes a spokesperson for the British Association of Beauty Therapy & Cosmetology (BABTAC). “Hands-on experience is invaluable, as is learning from peers, appreciating how a business runs from the bottom up and integrating with clients day in, day out.” What’s more, apprentices learn as they earn and businesses can foster loyal, homegrown and fresh talent, boosting their brands.

Nail Apprentice

Apprenticeships in England

Vacancies for apprentices in England are posted on the National Apprenticeship Service at www.gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship. Apprentices can work for up to 40 paid hours per week and ideally no less than 30 hours each week. They cannot work less than 16 hours per week. This employment includes off-the-job training, for example at a college or training provider (but not including English or Maths training), which accounts for 20% of their time.

The first stage of an apprenticeship: on-programme training, lasts a minimum of 12 months. This is where an apprentice learns job- specific skills and knowledge, before entering the Gateway stage. Here, the employer and if appropriate, training provider, decide if the apprentice is ready for the end-point assessment (EPA). This final stage is carried out by independent end-point assessors (IEPAs), who examine whether the apprentice has developed the skills, knowledge and behaviours outlined in the apprenticeship standard. This is a template for how the apprenticeship should be approached, detailing the skills required for the role being trained for.

Apprenticeships work differently throughout the UK:

  • In Wales, there are three types of apprenticeship: foundation apprenticeship (level 2), apprenticeship (level 3) and higher apprenticeship (level 4).
  • In Scotland, there is no beauty apprenticeship, but levels 5 and 6 Hairdressing and Barbering apprenticeships.
  • In Northern Ireland, apprenticeships in Hairdressing, Barbering, Beauty Therapy, Nail Services and Spa Therapy are available at levels 2 and 3.

Salon owner advice

Belinda Price

From Belinda Price, OPI UK&I education manager & owner of Nailspa, Huddersfield.

“An apprenticeship is your opportunity to develop a person’s skill set, life experience and career. If you can onboard and train an apprentice in a few treatments quickly, they will grow in confidence and soon bring revenue into your business, plus they will find their niche sooner,” she comments.

Before taking on an apprentice, Belinda recommends asking yourself:

  • Can you afford to hire?
  • Can you dedicate time to the apprentice? “The more training, supervision and support you can give, the greater the reward. If you are taking on a school leaver, all they know is school and home. You must find a way to sit in the middle, giving them some responsibilities and keeping them engaged.”
  • Will the team welcome them? “I once described gaining an apprentice to my team as having a new little sibling or cousin; they need to nurture and support them and give them their time.”
  • Can you give the apprentice a vision? “Make sure they know what you are both aiming for. Some training and tasks can appear pointless if you don’t explain. Plan regular meetings and make sure they feel part of the team and invested in.”

Click here to read more about the apprenticeship process in our May issue.