What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is on-the-job training that leads towards a qualification.

An apprentice is employed and paid by a business. They work with a qualified trainer in their workplace to learn all the skills they need to become fully qualified and commercially viable.

To encourage employers to take on new apprentices while dealing with the effects of COVID-19, the Government are offering extra support to employers, including wage subsidies. Find out more on the Work and Income website

An apprentice is a valuable part of any business. They can assist with entry level tasks, freeing seniors to perform more profitable tasks. An apprentice allows you to train the staff member you need from scratch and helps grow your industry by producing highly qualified, commercially successful young professionals.

Apprenticeships take 2-4 years with apprentices starting with basic skills and working their way up. They train with a qualified trainer in your hair salon, barbershop or beauty clinic.

Hairdressing and barbering apprentices also attend off-job training organised by HITO. This training takes place at their closest hairdressing and barbering school.

 What’s involved?

Your apprentice does 95% of their training in your business. Before you hire an apprentice, you need:

  • a qualified person to train and supervise your apprentice. They need to hold the same qualification that the apprentice is working towards (or equivalent). The trainer will be given a Training Manual.
  • the tools and equipment your apprentice needs to learn every skill involved in their qualification.
  • the time to commit to an apprentice. An apprentice should work 20-30 hours per week in your business. They need regular training and supervision during that time. As they move through their apprenticeship, they can do more tasks without supervision. The more time you can commit to training, the more useful your apprentice will be.

The benefits for your business

  1. An apprentice can perform administration tasks, freeing up senior operators – helpful at Christmas and other busy periods when there is lots of administration work to do. Your apprentice can greet clients, manage stock levels, and answer the phone.
  2. You know their skills are up to scratch. Because you or your trainer supervise every skill the apprentice learns, you know your apprentice can perform tasks to the standard you need.
  3. You know exactly how much they will cost you. If you hire new staff, you may have to retrain them to meet your standards. Retraining staff adds unexpected costs that might not fit your budget. Apprentices receive a training wage as a minimum, which is 80% of the adult minimum wage.
  4. An apprentice will learn exactly how your business functions. They will know the clients and systems before they start offering services. Also, clients are more comfortable with them.
  5. You can fit more services into your schedule. An apprentice can greet clients, prepare them for services and clean up afterwards. Because senior operators don’t have to worry about these tasks, they can fit more services into their day.

We asked the NZIER to research the benefits of apprenticeship, and the results speak for themselves. Of the salons surveyed, all of them had a positive return on investment (ROI) after two years’ of training an apprentice, and nearly half had an ROI after one year. The longer an apprentice stays, the greater the financial benefit to the salon.

Finding an apprentice

Finding the right apprentice for your salon is about knowing what makes a successful hair or beauty professional and finding those qualities. Skills can be taught – professionals in any industry learn new skills continuously. It’s the other qualities that will help you find the right apprentice for your salon and contribute to the success of your business.

  1. Think about what personal qualities are essential to your salon. An apprentice is unlikely to have any previous experience, so you need to think about what personal characteristics they need to succeed in your salon.
  2. Think about what your salon needs. Do you need someone bubbly and upbeat, someone hard-working or someone with great style?
  3. Maybe you want someone with good administration skills so they can help out on reception easily (this is a task all first-year apprentices do).
  4. Think about your salon culture. How will you know that an apprentice will fit in with your salon?
  5. Think about what you expect of an apprentice. Make sure any they know what they need to do to succeed in your salon.
  6. Be prepared to commit to training an apprentice. A hairdressing apprenticeship takes around three and a half years to complete. You should be sure that both you and the apprentice have the ability to commit to this.


Apprenticeships cost $1560 per year of training. From July 2020 to December 2022, apprentice fees will be covered by the Government’s Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund. Employers are able to arrange to pay fees on behalf of their apprentice, should they choose to do so.

Learn more about apprenticeships

Want to know more about the apprenticeships we offer? Visit our apprenticeships section now.