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National Apprenticeship Week: Milton Keynes College, a training provider’s perspective

In 2019, VTCT training provider, Milton Keynes College was named Hair & Beauty Apprenticeship Provider of the Year at the Annual Apprenticeship Awards. Following this fantastic achievement, this year the college has already been shortlisted for Apprenticeship Programme of the Year in the TES FE Awards 2020.

We spoke with the college’s Apprenticeship Manager for Hair, Hospitality, Motor Vehicle & Sport, Sarah Thompson, about Milton Keynes College’s success as a training provider, their experience in working with apprentices and her advice for anyone considering an apprenticeship.

National Apprenticeship Week training providerAsking Sarah what she credits for MK College’s success as an apprenticeship training provider, she explains: “the team and I are all so passionate about the industry and we still all work in salons; because of this, we understand what employers need and want and are able to meet those needs.”

Referring to their achievement in being awarded Hair & Beauty Apprenticeship Provider of the Year in 2019, Sarah noted “We are immensely proud of what we have achieved, and as a team were delighted with the result. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support we receive from our amazing employers that we work with.”

For Sarah, what sparked her passion for education and apprenticeships was her experience as an apprentice herself at Vidal Sassoon’s London Mayfair salon. She describes this as “the most amazing experience that has set me up for life; it still fuels my passion for the industry.”

It was due to this positive experience that Sarah was keen to teach others and become involved with the delivery of apprenticeships. “I value working with the employers and apprentices and to be able to support the employers’ businesses. I love nothing more than to go into salons and see apprentices still there years on, working as commercial stylists.”

Sarah explains her favourite part of working with apprentices is “watching them change their looks and experiment with their style when they first start. It is amazing to see them develop and learn new skills and become confident in their skills.”

When asked what prepares someone the most for an apprenticeship, Sarah advises “good work ethic and support from their family and employer. In addition, it is good for them to have a real understanding of what an apprenticeship is, and what it involves.”

Sarah’s advice for anyone thinking about undertaking an apprenticeship is that they should take into consideration the pay, the hours and the hard work – “You must have passion for the industry to become a hairdresser.” Sarah also emphasises the importance of learners having an idea of what type of salon they would like to work in, and where they want to go within their career, as the choices are endless.

One of Milton Keynes College’s former Hairdressing apprentices has secured a job as a stylist after receiving a Distinction in her End-Point Assessment. Click here to see Mimi’s story.

You can find out more about Milton Keynes College apprenticeships here.


This week we’re sharing inspirational stories to celebrate National Apprenticeship Week.

For more details about VTCT Apprenticeships, click here to visit the relevant section on our website