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The UK government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is to offer formal, sector-specific representation for the beauty industry it was announced in January 2021. In a move hailed by influential organisations in the sector, a dedicated Personal Care Services team now sits under the BEIS umbrella.
The sector-specific team will comprise the British Beauty Council, the British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology, the UK Spa Association and the National Hair and Beauty Federation. The move should be a gamechanger for the industry and is one that is “long overdue”, according to Helena Grzesk, chief operating officer of the British Beauty Council. “This decision; the announcement of a dedicated sector-specific team for personal care is monumental for the sector,” she remarked.
Certain that the development raises the beauty industry’s standing, Grzesk explained that “it’s something we’ve had on our wish list and we’ve been working towards achieving, and the announcement is just such a positive step in the right direction”.
It is clear that such a monumental move will shine a light on an industry that for too long had been “hidden away in the shadows”, according to Grzesk. This is just as well given that the UK cosmetics and toiletries sector saw a £1.7bn decline in value in 2020 after a hugely damaging year defined by the coronavirus pandemic and numerous lockdowns.
There are three key aims from the recent review carried out by the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education. These are:
· To raise awareness from outside the industry
· To enable the government to enhance its understanding of this dynamic, economically valuable and highly innovative sector
· To open the door to future financial support for the beauty industry
At present, there are no restrictions on those who provide hair and beauty services to clients. There is no doubt that this assorted economy of individuals
means that there is a mixed picture when it comes to the quality of service received by the client. The Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education’s occupational standards are designed to ensure that the quality of training for students remains at a high level.
While the review highlights areas where the skills gaps exist and guides employers to further update apprenticeships, in terms of the beauty assessor role, one key recommendation is that apprenticeships based on occupational standards continue to raise the bar for hair and beauty students so that they are well prepared for the step up into the workplace.
“I’m thrilled to present this report following our wide-ranging review,” the chair of the hair and beauty route panel of expert employers leading the review, Paul Edmonds, said: “It shows how apprenticeships and technical education is ready to adapt and thrive in a fast-changing world. It will drive up standards and transform perceptions of our wonderful industry, as we emerge from the shadow of COVID-19 and look ahead to an exciting future.”
An apprenticeship in the beauty sphere ensures that students have a grounding in the work environment before transitioning to the world of full-time work. Beauty assessors will be crucial facilitators of this transition and an important mouthpiece for the beneficial role that apprenticeships play in enhancing the industry.
The switch from framework to apprenticeships standards is an important one indeed. The Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education listened to the needs of employers when conducting its review. They expressed concerns that graduates still required additional training before they could be confident they were ‘salon-floor ready’. The report states: “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.”
Due to the fact that many employers in the beauty industry are micro or small businesses, additional support for new apprentices and T-level learners has been highlighted as being an important factor as they traditionally have limited time and resources to keep abreast of changes to government policy, “relying instead on their local college or training provider to guide them through important changes”.
With the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education stating “we need to make sure apprenticeships reflect modern models of employment and work for all employers in the sector”, it is incumbent on all FE beauty assessors doing their upmost to remain up to date with trends in the sector and changes to regulations.
The Botulinum Toxin and Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Act 2021, which has the long title of ‘A Bill to make provision about the administration to persons under the age of 18 of botulinum toxin and of other substances for cosmetic purposes; and for connected purposes’, provides provisions around the administration of botulinum toxin and of other substances for cosmetic purposes to those aged under 18. It is one example of a law change that FE beauty assessors must be au fait with.
Meanwhile, the Hair and Beauty Route Review Full Report explains that “hair, beauty and aesthetics practitioners continue to develop enhanced health and safety practices, as demonstrated in 2020 and 2021”. Again, it would be hugely beneficial for FE beauty assessors to always ensure that they are competent when it comes to such practices. As the review stresses: “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 client.” As an FE beauty assessor you will be at the forefront of maintaining high standards among students.
The new two-year technical study programmes, called T-levels have recently been introduced by the government as it seeks to offer a gold-standard technical alternative to A Levels, offering a blend of classroom-based learning and industry-led work experience. The first T-level in beauty is to be offered from September 2023 onwards.
The hair, beauty and aesthetics T-level final content version was published in January 2020, focusing on three occupational specialisms: hairdressing, barbering and beauty therapy. It states that “awarding organisations will need to ensure that students have an up-to-date knowledge of the legal and regulatory obligations relating to employment in the occupations relevant to the T Level, and understand the practical implication of these on their work”.
These T-levels will provide an industry placement of at least 45 days in the aligned industry or occupation and will focus on these key components:
· Business context
· Regulatory environment
· Safe working practices
· The client journey
· Client consultation
· Sales and marketing
· Business practices
The overarching aim of both the T-levels and apprenticeships is to “provide an individual with viable routes into an occupation, recognising that individuals benefit from different types of learning”, the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education says.