The Changing Face of Education and Training

The Changing Face of Education and Training

So much is currently happening in education and training and how trade skills training is managed in Australia.  Changes that in the coming years will have a significant impact on how hairdressers and barbers are formally trained and subsequently how the skills needs of industry are shaped well into the future.

The back story to this change is a little grim.  Our industry needs close to 5000 Hairdressers a year to meet ongoing demand.   Year-on-year apprenticeship commencements fallen well short of these numbers and subsequently the industry is now experiencing an acute skills shortage.

Change 1:  Boosting Apprenticeship Commencement incentive

After more than a decade of decline in terms of the number of people in training and the subsequent impact on the numbers of qualified hairdressers and barbers in industry we are finally seeing the number of apprenticeship commencements growing substantially.  This is primarily the result of the generous Boosting Apprenticeship Commencement (BAC) incentive which sees up to 50% of a first-year apprentices wage subsidised.  In a further hit of positive news the BAC incentive which was due to complete at the end of March 2022 has been extended to the end of June 2022 providing many more salons and barbershops the opportunity to add much needed people to their teams.   While the future of employer incentives beyond June is unclear with a federal election campaign underway the message is clear, strong support for employers through incentives have lit a fire under the demand for new people into our trade.

Change 2: Structural change to how skills training is managed nationally

An eye watering amount of investment has been made by the federal government to reshape how workforce and skills development is managed.  Currently we are in the middle of a process that will see us transition from the current skills service organisations who currently support hairdressing and Barbering to an industry cluster model which will take effect in early 2024. There are 9 clusters proposed and at this stage hairdressing and barbering are grouped into the Arts and Personal services cluster.  The initial tender process concluded in March. The next step will be the announcement of short-listed organisation which will then lead to the successful cluster organisation managing a transition through the later part of 2023 before taking the reins in 2024.  While this is bureaucracy at work and not particularly exciting for us as small business owners, the exciting part is how the cluster organisations will potentially be structured.  The mandate from the government is one that will allow us as an industry to contribute strongly.  It will allow hairdressers, barbers, employers, training organisations and industry associations to contribute to how we attract, train, develop and retain hairdressers and barbers in our industry moving forward.  This can only be a good thing in a landscape where competition to attract people to our industry is at an all time high.  The critical next step for us as an industry is to develop a national training framework that is flexible for salons and apprentices, allowing salons to train in the skills needed for their businesses while at the same time balancing the need that each apprentice has to develop the breath of skills to build diverse and rewarding careers in hair.

As an RTO member and board director of the Australian Hairdressing Council (AHC) I am proud of the strong steps the AHC is taking to actively engage across all the areas of change that will affect the industry and in particular the contribution to consultation and engagement with salons, barbershops, apprentices, industry educators, suppliers and stakeholders on what the best training experience looks like.   The transition to the industry cluster model is the perfect opportunity for the AHC to engage and be ready to contribute strongly to the training landscape over the next couple of years and in particular when the new cluster organisations come into being in 2024.

Along with the establishment of a truly national education and training committee the upcoming AHC education and training industry day on Friday the 10th of June ensures that as an industry, we are advocating for the best possible outcomes for the education of those who will sustain our industry going forward.

If you travelling to Sydney for Hair Festival the AHC education and training industry day is on the Friday before the Festival.  It would be wonderful to have as many voices as possible to inform the changing face of training and help us to answer the question “What does the Best Training Experience look like”.  All the details of the Industry day can be found at

Change is constant and while sometimes the landscape appears complicated and difficult to navigate in the end providing meaningful work to someone is life changing.  The hair and barber industry through the education and training holds a special place where we help to build lives through the dignity of skills and work.  Regardless of where the apprentices we employ and train today go in their careers the opportunity we have to help them on their way is special.


Industry Day 2022

Industry Day 2022

Hair Festival 2022 and the AHIA Creative awards seemed like a coming out party for the industry after 2 long years of disruption and virtual events. 

The chilly long weekend was a showcase of education and collaboration.  Taking advantage of the hair community coming together, the Australian Hairdressing Council (AHC) ran two oversubscribed education events on the Friday and Saturday before Hair Festival.  The Industry Day on the Friday saw 95 educators from all over Australia come together at the Park Royal in Sydney.  A further 220 then attended the Leadership Summit on Saturday at the Hilton.

Industry day is absolutely unique on the Australian hair calendar.  It is the only industry event that brings educators together from across the entire industry and across the country.  Facilitated by the AHC’s national training committee the room was full of the who’s who of industry educators including: 

  • salon owners and in-salon educators,
  • company and supplier educators,
  • independent industry educators as well as
  • RTO management and teachers from both TAFE and private providers.  

The theme of the day focussed on “What does the best training Experience look like for our apprentice Hairdressers and Barbers”.  The hair industry is crying out for great people.  Like never before we need to attract, develop and retain new Hairdresser and Barbers.  To do this we need to offer the Best Training Experience possible. 

A full day of collaboration was interspersed with three incredible speakers.    AHC CEO Sandy Chong provided a snapshot of where we are headed as an industry before keynote speaker Mark Mackenzie helped the attendees to understand the changes on the horizon for skills training and how our hair and barber qualifications are managed from 2023 onwards.   Finally, Paul Frasca shared his sustainability story and in particular how he has been able to share his message through education, collaboration and connection. 

Spread throughout the day was a series of short and sharp workshops to firstly map out what the best training experience looks like before focussing in on how to build relationships between Salons, Registered Training Organisations (RTO’s), Independent and Company Educators to make the apprentice experience gold standard.  The room was abuzz as they worked through all aspects of the apprentice journey from how we best attract and engage new entrants before turning its attention to retention and development of apprentices as they progress through their training toward qualification and beyond.  The learnings from the day were incredible with the best thinking from the 95 attendees refined into a roadmap for the training system moving forward. 

The top priorities identified for attracting new entrants to our industry and apprenticeship system were:

  • To market what success looks like for school leavers through Social Media
  • To promote Hairdressing & Barbering apprenticeships to every secondary school by developing an information kit while Including opportunities to experience Hairdressing firsthand.
  • To develop inspiring content to showcase career diversity

In terms of engaging apprentices once they have made the decision to choose hair, the key outcomes included:

  • Developing individualised training designed to match the expectations and capabilities of the individual.
  • Developing induction programs with practical training that covers all salon skills.
  • Provide training for the owner on how to develop career plans and training programs, as well as positively mentoring apprentices on their journey.

When the delegates turned their attention to the next part of the student journey the best training experience the question posed to the collective was.  What is critical to developing skills and creating an incredible training experience from the 6 months to 2-year time frame?  The top responses were to:

  • Develop career plan to set goals and dedicate time to identify the training activities.
  • Define the training and development responsibilities for everyone in the salon.
  • Build confidence and esteem through consistent feedback including recognition and reward.

Rounding out the student journey workshops saw the delegates turn their attention to the final stages of training and development culminating in qualification as a Hairdresser or Barber.  The key messages from this workshop were to:

  • Identify skill areas of strength and develop specialised training programs.
  • Ramp up client skills including benchmarks, goal setting and growing their income.
  • Help build their profile within the salon and with their potential client’s.

The clear message across each of the accent points examined as part of the student journey was heard loud and clear.   Relationships are what matter.  An approach to training that includes all parties working together to make the apprentice experience the best possible.  This includes salon owners working hand in glove with their RTO, supplier /product companies and independent educators.  To this end the delegates were challenged to dig deep into the training relationships to unpack what are the key components of the training relationship.

The first step was to identify the critical components that make up an inclusive industry training plan that enriches the apprentice experience.  The components identified were:

  • Milestone check-ins between salon owner, aprentice and RTO to discuss the progress of the in-salon training.
  • Develop mutual respect by creating clear role responsibilities for each stakeholder.
  • Simplify the ‘training’ language to reflect company, supplier, industry and salon training.

Drilling in deeper into how the critical components identified should then be managed the delegates came together to identify the most important training plan management aspects to focus on:

  • Creating a central database for all stakeholders to access.
  • Provision of more ongoing support and active engagement from Apprentice Network providers.
  • To keep it flexible 

Not only did the delegates who attended walk away with a host of new connections to share their education journey with, but they also took away real ideas and solutions to implement in their own education and training businesses to improve the training experience of their students and clients.  Finally, everyone who attended left with a feeling that they had a strong input into the direction of hair education in this county.  The responses and outcomes captured by the AHC over the course of the Industry day will inform how the AHC engages with regulators to shape the training landscape now and in the future.

Hairbiz Year 16 Issue 3 Out Now

Hairbiz Year 16 Issue 3 Out Now

New issue of HairBiz Magazine has dropped. Another great read about our industry by MIG Director Anthony Gray on The Changing Face of Education and Training on page 70.

Be creative. Have fun. Dare to be different.


HAIR BIZ is the only magazine of its kind which offers a comprehensive look at both the business and image side of the hair industry. It provides salon owners with tools and information to be more successful and knowledgeable when it comes to business skills as well as keeping them informed with trend forecasts, interviews, profiles, news, reviews and product info.

Hairbiz Year 16 Issue 2 Out Now

Hairbiz Year 16 Issue 2 Out Now

Check out this month’s HairBiz Magazine. Great story by MIG Director Anthony Gray on The Role of RTOs on page 46. Be creative. Have fun. Dare to be different.


HAIR BIZ is the only magazine of its kind which offers a comprehensive look at both the business and image side of the hair industry. It provides salon owners with tools and information to be more successful and knowledgeable when it comes to business skills as well as keeping them informed with trend forecasts, interviews, profiles, news, reviews and product info.

What is the Role of Your RTO?

What is the Role of Your RTO?

For a salon to successfully train an apprentice, a strong working relationship with your Registered Training Organisation (RTO) is critical. Invariably, like all partnerships, there will be times when you need to work with your RTO to resolve issues that arise and without a strong understanding of exactly what the RTO’s responsibilities are this can be difficult.

Particularly, because apprenticeships can be complicated for all the parties involved and at times the priorities of each of the parties may appear to compete. Juggling the priorities of the apprentice, the needs of the salon combined with the requirements of the formal training package requires a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of all involved. So again, the best advice would be to get to know exactly what your RTO’s role is, so that you can work with them to achieve the best outcomes.

The first responsibility for an RTO on the apprenticeship journey is to work with the employer to ensure that all the right conditions and support are in place for each and every apprentice. This will include ensuring there are qualified hairdressers in place to supervise and mentor the apprentice. That the salon has the range of work the apprentice needs to undertake to cover all aspects of the Certificate III qualification and that any learning, literacy and numeracy needs of the apprentice are identified in order to put in place support where required.

Secondly, the RTO is responsible for the delivery of the formal training and assessment. The first step of this process is to negotiate and develop a training plan with the salon and your apprentice. As part of that training plan there will be so timeframes that you will need to work towards. Depending on which state you are based in this could three or four years for a fulltime apprentice. The training plan is the centre piece of the induction process which will also cover your options for delivery and assessment. Will your apprentice attend college? If so, how often? Will you opt for workplace delivery and what might that look like? This plan will be put in place along with a time-line for review. This initial planning phase will also cover things such as any training costs or obligations.

Thirdly, the RTO will manage progress. Most colleges will do this by providing your apprentice and yourself with a training record that records each unit of competency as it is completed as you work through the qualification. Along with the training plan the training plan the training record book will sits within the salon and shows that you’re regularly moving and completing your work in line with your timeline. It also provides evidence that can be provided to state training authorities to demonstrate apprenticeship progression. The RTO will regularly check that with you and then manage your apprentices training plan in unison with the training record to make sure that the progression is happening. An important responsibility of and RTO is to notify and work with you if the apprentice is not progressing to plan. in the areas of numeracy and literacy the RTO is the first port of call. Having conducted literacy and numeracy assessment sat the outset the RTO can identify any issues that require support and either provide additional learning support themselves or work with external specialist agencies to support every apprentice through their journey.

Finally, there is completion. When it comes time to complete your apprentice a completion agreement is signed by all parties. Only once the salon, the apprentice and RTO are in agreement on completion is a qualification issued. Once a qualification has been issued your apprentice can move on in their career as a fully qualified Hairdresser or Barber in industry. For many this a life changing outcome and the result of more than 3 years of blood, sweat and tears. An amazing outcome built on the critical partnership between the salon and the RTO. Knowing the role that your RTO plays in developing your emerging stylists provides the salon and the apprentice the very best chance to not only last the journey but to be part of an incredible training experience.