Welcome, My name is Joan and I’m a Beauty and Spa expert, a skills consultant, and an educationalist. My last senior leadership role in the further education sector was as Assistant Principal at Trafford College Group leading strategically on apprenticeships and adult learning. I believe passionately in the pursuit of technical excellence and the impact of skill competitions, helping learners to go further, and faster in their careers. I’m an Ambassador for the Association of Colleges (AoC) promoting WorldSkills UK and have visited WorldSkills competitions in countries such as Budapest and Abu Dhabi. As CEO and Chair of the Hair and Beauty Industry Authority (HABIA), I work to promote and serve the hair and beauty sector. I’m an author of The Official Guide to Spa Therapy and have contributed to many other beauty textbooks.

Who is HABIA?

The Hair and Beauty Industry Authority (Habia)is the government-recognised Standard Setting Body (SSB) for the Hairdressing, Barbering, Beauty Therapy, Nails, Aesthetics, Wellbeing and Holistic industries to form the Sector. For more than thirty years we have been developing national standards that reflect the job role and form the basis of competency-based qualifications across the UK. Habia is an independent, not-for-profit organisation, we work with and represent all industry stakeholders – organisations, individual employers, learning providers, awarding bodies and Government and its agencies across the UK.  The Habia logo is a long-established, well-recognised sign of high-quality standards, excellence and professionalism.

What are National Occupational Standards?

These are developed by Standard Setting Organisations (SSO) such as Habia, who consult with employers and other stakeholders across each of the UK nations, (Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and England). This consultation process allows any specific requirements to be considered by each nation and the result is a set of NOS that are suitable for use across the UK. NOS can be used for developing skills and knowledge and these include direct transfer into vocational and other qualifications, a framework for training programs, measures of workplace competence, and influencing job descriptions.

What are regulated qualifications?

At Habia we promote Ofqual regulated qualifications. We would always advise an individual to be fully qualified and achieve a nationally recognised qualification. Ofqual recognised Awarding Organisations include – VTCT, City & Guilds, Qualifi, CIBTAC, etc.  If you want to check if an Awarding Organisation (AO) is Ofqual recognised, go to www.ofqual.gov.uk

Why a regulated qualification?

If it’s because your career will depend on it, or if it’s to show future employers or clients that you have a valid qualification then a regulated qualification does this. You might want to demonstrate instantly that the qualification you have can be relied upon or, as the regulator often describes it – that it’s a valid qualification.  Regulators such as Ofqual (for England) have statutory powers under various Acts of Parliament. Because of the reputation of these regulators and the strength of regulation behind these qualifications, it means qualifications that hold any of these brands are accepted worldwide. Awarding Organisations (AOs) who have gained recognition by a regulator have shown that their qualifications are robust, of a very high standard and are ‘fit for purpose’ – those people holding the qualifications have all attained the same level of skills, knowledge and understanding. They can be relied upon. Employers across the world see it as a badge of quality, an assurance that the person with the qualification has the knowledge and skills they are looking for.

At Habia we implore individuals to research widely and choose very wisely when they are deciding on an organisation to provide their training. We say ‘be the best you can be’, don’t opt for cheap and fast training and education.  

An issue across the sector currently is the plethora of short ‘accredited’ training courses. I feel this has gone so widespread that unfortunately the term accredited has become discredited. It’s very hard for prospective students to decipher who is offering a robust, recognised qualification and who isn’t. They are often seduced by very professional, slick websites, that promise the earth, look valid, and offer insurance after doing a course lasting only a few hours. It’s not illegal, but it’s impacting the sector, with implications for client safety.  Many of these accreditation companies are very new and no one knows their credentials, who is behind them, their expertise or their appropriateness to be accredited training.

We have many people contact us who thought they were studying for a nationally recognised qualification, when in fact they aren’t, and they have wasted a lot of time and money, it’s very sad. Another worrying aspect is insurance. Many years ago, insurance could only be obtained if you had a ‘regulated’ qualification, this acted like a gatekeeper – you could only get insurance if you were fully qualified.  There are undoubtedly many good insurance companies, but we are also hearing from individuals in the sector that are shocked to hear some insurance companies don’t ask to see any certificates or evidence of a qualification, which is frightening.

Another misunderstanding is the term CPD, and how this is interpreted.  Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is a long-established part of any profession, giving a structure to the continual development of your skills and knowledge. There seems to be a poor understanding of the fact that you need to be a professional first, before you undertake CPD courses. The worry is when those organisations offering short CPD courses allow non-professionals on to the courses, especially those new to the sector without any qualifications at all. These very short courses are not designed for those entering the sector, they usually don’t include all the foundation knowledge and understanding needed to fully acquire the skills to become a professional, to provide safe treatments, with high standards. Many employers are getting very confused when candidates attend interviews with a plethora of ‘accredited’ courses, they don’t know what they mean and what they are qualified in, if anything. Some employers are now stating they only want applicants with regulated qualifications.

CPD is a very important activity for a professional, enabling them to stay up-to-date, and acquire new skills and knowledge. At Habia we endorse CPD courses. We emphasise that these courses are designed for ‘professionals’ -those that are already qualified and in the sector.  We state these courses are not designed for anyone entering the sector, we recommend that they first study Ofqual regulated qualifications. Then they can progress to CPD courses.

 At Habia we have a robust assessment process for endorsement.  We ensure courses are of high quality and are aligned with the most recent NOS. Look for the Habia-endorsed logo to ensure you can trust the training courses on offer. We promote these courses on our website, in our newsletters, in Education Forums, and on social media.  Habia has worked with the BASC for many years, we’re proud to endorse the para-medical skin camouflage course, our assessors found it to be of very high quality.

Personally, I fully embrace and celebrate the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit that our sector demonstrates. However, it’s so important to have a well-embedded, respected and acknowledged qualification structure, to ensure high standards and protect client safety. Although we are not a regulated sector, we do have regulated qualifications and we need to ensure these are respected, embedded within the industry and are what employers are looking for when recruiting staff. The area that has caused huge concern is non-surgical cosmetic procedures, you may have heard that to protect public safety the Government has introduced a license scheme, once introduced it will be illegal to offer these treatments without a license. Habia is chairing a task and finish group that is looking at the details of the license, alongside other organisations in the sector such as the JCCP.

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