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Training standards for Afro hair

The UK national press was on fire recently with news of a review in National Occupational Standards (NOS) for working with Afro/Black hair. Certainly it’s a welcome announcement that hairdressing should now ‘meet the needs of the UK’s diverse community in one standard.’  This is pushing us in the right direction in levelling up, but there’s some way to go.

Jacqui McIntosh is director of Education at Avlon Europe. The brand is a leading name in products and education for Black/Afro heritage hair, with a wealth of expertise to share.  Throughout her career, Jacqui herself has also worked closely with bodies issuing qualifications and so is perfectly placed to explain what’s actually happened so far regarding news of the NOS,  and where we need to get to.

Jacqui McIntosh
Jacqui McIntosh, director of education at Avlon Europe

Importantly, she’s positive about the news: “Avlon welcomes the new additions to the National Occupational Standards(NOS), that are set to amplify the current criteria of hair classifications.” This will bring together skills, knowledge and values that are used as a benchmark for qualification development alongside defining the roles at work, staff recruitment and appraisal within hairdressing. But, says Jacqui, it’s not yet a job done. Read her evaluation of where we are now:

Training standards for Afro hair

Afro hairdressing has always been included within qualifications structures but usually via optional units regarding technical applications. However, currently in the UK, knowledge and techniques regarding Black hair care are not embedded within the core curriculum assessment strategy, leaving learners lacking the skills required to treat a growing section of the multicultural population.

Texture Release“Avlon has been working with training partners and awarding bodies over the years by supporting with both theory and technical knowledge, ensuring that learners are taught all aspects of Afro hairdressing and will continue to do so.

“Regional bias has been used as the reason for not including Afro hairdressing within the core curriculum for some time; this can no longer be the excuse. Learners of all backgrounds have an interest in Afro hairdressing, and they have the right to leave training with some knowledge and understanding of all hair types and conditions regardless of where they have gained their training within the UK.

“A perfect analogy to this is how during mainstream education in mathematics you are taught algebra. Not because you will use it on a day-to-day basis but because it is essential that you have knowledge of the subject matter! The same applies to Black hair.


Avlon Models

Where next? 

“Awarding Organisations are well on the way to making changes regarding this. They have started working on their qualifications focusing on the assessment of qualifications and ensuring that testing and assessing learners on black hair and skin is embedded throughout their qualifications. When the qualification reviews start, funding and guided learning hours will need to be reviewed to support the new standards. There is a large skills gap within many training providers who will need additional resources and support towards these changes which Avlon is happy to support.

Thanks Jacqui! Let’s keep pressing for a speedy uptake of the new standards and see real change for the better. 

To hear a conversation with Jacqui McIntosh, Anne Veck, and Kim Johnson on their view of Afro hairdressing, recorded for Respectfully earlier this year, click HERE

For more Avlon news click HERE


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