Have you heard about the new T levels? The government has described them as ‘the biggest overhaul of post-school education in 70 years'. But what are they? And how will they affect training and apprenticeships in the hair, beauty and barbering industry?

This blog post covers: 

What are T levels? 

T level is short for ‘Technical level’. T levels are new technical qualifications for those aged 16 and above. They are being developed in partnership by the government, business and education.

T levels are two-year, level 3 technical study programmes leading to a specific qualification. They will be college-based and are expected to replace many of the current vocational and education qualifications currently offered at level 3.

It is expected that there will be a hairdressing, beauty therapy, barbering and aesthetics T level.

Other areas of study will include software design; construction; legal and finance; catering; agriculture; and childcare. There will be 15 T levels in total.

The Institute for Apprenticeships will become the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education in April 2018.

T Levels

What will T levels offer?

The aim of T levels is to help individuals secure skilled employment by providing:

• Practical skills and knowledge specific to their chosen industry or occupation.
• At least 45 days’ relevant and meaningful work placement (at no cost to employers).
• Core English, maths and digital skills (probably to be graded from E to A*).
• Transferable skills for use in the workplace.

T level students will:

• Learn practical skills specific to their chosen occupation from the beginning of their course.
• Choose the occupational specialisms they wish to focus on during the course (probably to be graded as a pass, merit or distinction).

When will T levels be introduced?

The new T levels are currently being developed and will be fully in place by 2022.

It is expected that the hair and beauty T level will be available from 2021.


What about existing apprenticeship schemes?

T levels will not replace the current apprenticeships in hairdressing, barbering, beauty therapy and nail services.  

They will sit alongside apprenticeships and A levels offering an additional route into work.

Find out more about taking on an apprentice in our blog posts:

Taking on an apprentice
Where to start

Guide to apprenticeships

If you’re thinking of taking on an apprentice, find out more by downloading the NHF’s free expert Apprenticeships Guide. NHF Members also benefit from free apprentice agreements, help and advice from our friendly membership team on 01234 831965 and access to the free 24/7 legal helpline.

What does the NHF say?

The NHF has questioned how well the new T level in hair and beauty will work in practice.

NHF CEO Hilary Hall points out that the existing apprenticeship schemes offer much more workplace experience than the new T levels will.

“In addition,” says Hilary, “we believe that employers in our industry will want T level learners to pass the same independent end-point assessment as apprentices, because this is the only way to ensure that learners have the necessary ‘work-ready’ skills.

“Also, how and where are colleges going to find enough salons and barbershops – many of them already hard-pressed – to take on all these extra work experience trainees?

“However, we recognise that employers are struggling to recruit school-leavers as apprentices. T levels may provide a more suitable alternative than the current college-based courses. So we’re encouraging employers to get involved and apply for places on the panels which will be developing the content of these new qualifications.”

Barber lights

Get involved

Please email Caroline Larissey, NHF Quality and Standards Manager, if you are interested in joining a T level panel and contributing to the development of these new qualifications.


• T levels are new college-based technical qualifications.
• The aim is to help individuals gain skilled employment.
• They will be available to those aged 16 and over.
• There will be a hair, beauty and barbering T level.
• Current apprenticeship schemes and A level qualifications will continue.
• It’s expected that the new T levels will be fully in place by 2022.

More from the NHF

Bookmark our website to make sure you’re up to date with all the latest news, views, information and advice relating to the hair, beauty and barbering industry.

Simply register for free to download these in-depth expert guides:

• Apprenticeships
• Starting up
• Salon software
• Pensions

Are you an NHF Member? For less than 75p a day you’ll have instant access to a wide range of additional benefits that offer incredible value for money. These include: 

• Free apprentice agreements and staff handbooks.
• Our free membership helpline for everyday business support.
• Free 24/7 legal helpline, including help and advice on apprenticeships.
• Essential health & safety kits – including risk assessments for young people.
• Free tax and commercial helpline.
• Free Member-only in-depth guides including the National Minimum Wage and apprentice pay rates.
• Savings and discounts on business essentials including insurance.