24 June 2019

T levels are new technical qualifications which will be offered by schools and colleges for 16-18-year olds.  They are two-year programmes set at level 3 and will be equivalent to achieving three A levels.  The T level for hair, beauty and aesthetics is currently under development, although it will not be introduced until 2022 or 2023. Learners will complete a common core programme and then specialise in either hairdressing, barbering or beauty therapy. A consultation is expected on the draft hair and beauty T level in late July.

Challenges

The content of T level programmes is based on the equivalent apprenticeship standards.  Unlike apprenticeships which are mostly work-based, T levels include a work placement which only last 45-60 days.  A recent report by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) has shown that finding enough work placements will be a major concern for providers, especially in sectors such as hair and beauty which are dominated by small and micro businesses.  In response, the government has introduced some flexibility into placements, including a trial of employer cash incentives for the first wave of T levels.

As level 3 programmes which are equivalent to A levels, learners will need to achieve maths and English at a minimum of level 3, which may  also be a potential barrier for some learners.

We will be releasing the draft hair and beauty T levels for comment in late July and we urge everyone to have their say

Caroline Larissey, NHF/NBF Director of Quality & Standards and a member of the T level panel, said: “We will be releasing the draft hair and beauty T levels for comment in late July and we urge everyone to have their say.  While we are convinced that employers in hairdressing or barbering will always prefer apprenticeships to T levels, employers are finding it difficult to recruit school leavers. Once T levels are available, there may be even fewer school leavers coming onto the market, leaving employers with little option but to take on learners who have at least achieved a relevant T level.  Employers can also use the work placements as an opportunity to identify young people they would want to take on and train further.  As beauty therapy courses are well-established in colleges, we believe the beauty therapy T level route will be popular with employers.”