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 hairdressing, 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 -18. They will become one of three major options for students to study at Level 3, alongside apprenticeships and A Levels.

T Levels are designed with employers to give young people the skills that the industry needs. They will provide a mixture of:
• Technical knowledge and skills specific to their chosen industry or occupation.
• An industry placement of at least 315 hours (approximately 45 days) in their chosen industry or occupation.
• Relevant maths, English and digital skills.

15 technical routes were set up following the Sainsbury ReviewOccupational maps were also developed to create a common framework across all technical education covering both employment-based learning apprenticeships and college-based (T Levels) programmes. The maps determine how occupations are categorised and  where T Levels are administered.

Hair, beauty and aesthetics is one of the technical routes. The T Level content comes from the occupational map at Level 3 and includes hairdressing, barbering and beauty therapy.

Watch a short Department for Education video about T Levels.

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) will be leading on apprenticeship and T Level development. Its business plan outlines how it intends to make a positive impact on the design and delivery of apprenticeships and T Levels.

Read the government's T Level action plan.

How are T Levels being developed?

Employers and providers are working together to develop each T Level with support from the DfE and IfATE. Groups of employers define the skills and requirements for each T Level course by participating in T Level panels. This ensures that students taking T Levels will develop the technical knowledge and skills required by employers in that industry.

The T Level panels have been developing the content for the qualifications based on the same standards as apprenticeships and these plans are being tested and reviewed with students, education providers and employers.

What will T Levels offer?

For the hair, beauty and aesthetics technical route the T Level course will include the following compulsory elements:

• A technical qualification which will include:
- Core theory (how the sector operates, regulatory requirements, health and safety, sales and marketing, the client journey, client consultation).
- Specialist skills and knowledge in hairdressing, barbering or beauty therapy.
• A relevant and meaningful work placement with an employer of 315 hours (approximately 45 days), at no cost to employers.
• Core English, maths and digital skills: by the end of the programme learners will need to have achieved level 2 English and maths (Grade 4).
• Transferable skills for use in the workplace.

Students who pass all the elements of their T Level will get a nationally recognised certificate showing an overall pass grade of merit or distinction. The certificate will also set out details of what the student has achieved, including their industry placement and grades for individual elements of the T Level.

Find out more information about T Levels including funding, a timeline and how to get involved.

Industry placements

Employers can offer work placements as a block, day release or a mix of both, and may be able to share part of the placement with another employer if necessary. The focus  will be on developing the practical and technical skills required for the occupation. 

Providers will support employers offering industry placements. This will include help with the paperwork and planning and designing the industry placement.

Funding and support for providers

The government recognises that significant additional funding will be needed for the successful introduction and delivery of T Levels. They have already announced funding of £500 million a year to help providers meet the costs of additional teaching hours and organising industry placements.

Providers of the first three T Levels will be able to apply for funding for up-to-date equipment and facilities. They will also be able to access training to help prepare their teachers and leaders. Find out more on the government website.

T Level Transition Programme

A transitional programme will be developed and phased in which will focus on providing an effective preparation for students to complete a T Level. It will be targeted at young people who are not ready to start a T Level at age 16 but who can realistically be expected to complete one by age 19. The T Level Transition Programme will support students to develop the academic skills, technical skills, knowledge and behaviours required to complete a T Level through tailored provision that supports their progress.

When will T Levels be introduced?

The new T Levels are currently being developed and will be fully in place by 2023.

Depending on development timescales, the hair, beauty and aesthetics T Level will be ready for delivery in 2022 or 2023.

Other areas of study will include software design, construction, legal and finance, catering, agriculture, and childcare.

Some T Level providers have already been confirmed by the government for courses in the digital, construction and education/childcare sectors. Find out more.

Beauty

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 apprenticeships in the UK and read our blog posts about taking on an apprentice:

Taking on an apprentice
Where to start

What does the NHF/NBF say?

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

NHF/NBF 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.”

Please email Caroline Larissey, NHF/NBF director of quality and standards, for further information about how to get involved. 

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Checklist

• 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 aesthetics 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 2023.

More from the NHF/NBF

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