Guide to regulated training, awarding bodies, and regulation

Not all training is created equal

Regulated, it’s the qualification that travels with you

It is effortless to become confused when looking at the training sector, and there are more acronyms than you can poke with a stick while courses seem mighty similar. In this document, we want to to try and remove some of the confusion while also highlighting specific directions ATAI has taken and the reasoning behind them.

A note on the EU, while we do not wish to make this political, with 27 member States, coming to a consensus for guidelines for non-surgical-cosmetic-interventions is proving to be problematic. The debate started back in 2014, while guidelines (unpublished) have been agreed for beauty treatments, non-surgical-cosmetic-interventions is still held up with no agreed outcome in sight. Even if the EU does publish a set of guidelines, it becomes incredibly problematic for them that the training industry has its foundations in the UK. While the EU has not consulted with the UK organisations, an agreed set of standards have been put in place that is robust and agreed upon by the GMC, NMC, GDC, while a new regulatory body has also been set up, the JCCP.

The Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners (JCCP) was established in January 2016, following the publication of the final HEE Report on ‘Implementation of qualification requirements for cosmetic procedures: Non-surgical cosmetic interventions and hair restoration surgery’ that was published in November 2015. As the newly established body for self-regulation of the non-surgical and hair restoration surgery sectors in England, the JCCP aims to:

  • Provide information to the public seeking non-surgical and hair restoration surgery treatments.
  • Maintain a register of accredited practitioners who meet the industry recognised standards for the delivery of non-surgical and hair restoration surgery treatments.
  • Keep a list of approved education and training providers and qualifications.

The JCCP is a not-for-profit organisation supported by Government, statutory, regulatory bodies (GMC, NMC, GDC, GPhC, HCPC) and many industry partners (Education Providers, Pharmaceutical Companies, Pharmacies, Professional Associations and many others). The areas covered by the activities of the JCCP includes the injection of botulinum toxin and fillers, chemical peels/skin rejuvenation, laser treatments and hair restoration surgery.

We further explained here > HEE Report and the implications for the Irish aesthetics and beauty industry and also here > Understanding Level 4, 5, 6 and 7 Training, why ATAI are following the UK’s lead. We hope that explains in detail enough the why.

Understanding course terminology

Any regulated course will provide a credit value this is regulated by the QCF (Qualification Credit Framework.) How many credits the course entails determines whether the course is an Award, Certificate, Diploma or a Degree. Each unit of credit pertains to 10 hours of learning time.

  • An Award = 1 – 12 credits or 10 to 120 hours
  • A Certificate = 13 to 36 credits or 130 to 360 hours
  • A Diploma represents over 37 credits or 370 hours of study.

A course will typically have two, time values, GLH (Guided Learning Hours) and TQT (Total Qualification Time.) GLH is the time spent on theory and practical learning. The remainder of the time is private study and assignment work. Depending on the college you attend the entire GLH might be in the classroom and practical areas or theory might also be delivered through a VLE (Virtual Learning Environment.)

Who can provide Accredited Qualifications

Private and public education institutions can provide accredited qualifications. Approved colleges would display and mention the awarding bodies which they are accredited.

A further note: UK and Northern Ireland based educational institutions and individual trainers will be required to gain registration with the JCCP if they want to offer accredited Level 4 through to Level 7 qualifications. Currently, the JCCP is only accepting registrations within England. The JCCP headed by Interim Chair, Professor David Sines indicated to us that over the coming year they will be looking at extending the registration to other locations. Discussions will take place over that time and we can hope that they make the decision to broaden the scope to include Ireland and beyond.

What are the most common awarding bodies?

Anyone training in the aesthetics sector partaking a regulated course, be that here in Ireland, the UK, or 33 other countries including Australia and New Zealand, ultimately will study a course provided by CIBTAC, ITEC/VTCT or IQ. In addition to these awarding organisations, we are also starting to see specific degrees emerging in the aesthetics space, offering opportunities for a new kind of aesthetic therapist. Victoria University in Australia is now offering a Bachelor of Dermal Sciences. The course is aimed to develop a comprehensive foundation knowledge in all areas of dermal science and the skills to perform safe and effective dermal treatments. It is our opinion that we will see more universities launching similar third level qualifications in the near future. We are indeed, on the curvature of education innovation within our sector.

With the evolution of our industry, the awarding bodies that have provided accredited qualifications for our sector for over 30 years are also going through an evolving process. ITEC recently merged with VTCT and are currently in the process of releasing new courses to reflect the changing industry. CIBTAC have also changed their course offerings to reflect the aesthetics sector. Now, IQ has staked their claim to the aesthetics space providing the only true Level 7 qualification in Injectables for Aesthetic Medicine. Within the coming months IQ also have qualification launching for Laser & Light, Facial Peels, Micro-Needling and operations for aesthetic practice.

Validated CPD courses and endorsed short courses

This is where people are often confused, and rightly so, it is not easy to separate a CPD or endorsed course from a regulated course. It is made even harder as training providers often use confusing language.

We are most familiar with endorsed or CPD courses led by brand training. When you receive your laser training after you have purchased a new machine, this is an endorsed course. The same as if you go on a course for peels by the brand or micro needling by the brand. The training can vary substantially in the quality and robustness of the course content. Typically, the training centres around a specific brand, or machine, rather than focusing on the technology, active ingredients, moreover, the scope of study tends to be very narrow. These courses typically run one to three days, while they can be beneficial they are no replacement for an accredited qualification.

CPD (Continuous Professional Development) courses can be validated or non-validated. If the training provider submitted the course content for validation, then the course will carry the CPD mark the certificate you receive will carry the CPD logo. At times providers will often say endorsed by GMC, NMC or GDC or approved by BACN, RCN, HABIA and BABTAC. The provider may also use words like accredited, delivered, or awarded by Ofqual. While CPD courses are fundamental to our industry, they are not regulated, recognised qualifications. Currently, all Botox/Facial filler courses in Ireland are CPD courses, none at the time of writing are an official, regulated, Level 7 qualification. The only awarding body currently facilitating a regulated Level 7 course is IQ (Industry Qualifications.) This will, of course, change in time, but currently, if IQ does not award the injectables course, then it is not a recognised Level 7 qualification.

Any course you take that is brand specific or designed to sell a particular brand is not eligible for CPD validation. You will gain a certificate of attendance, and the course is counted as non-validated CPD.

CPD courses as mentioned, are an essential component of continual learning. It is simple to put it into perspective though, an unregulated skin needling course is one maybe two days, while a regulated Level 4 Certificate in Micro Needling is 102 GLH. Common sense dictates that maybe seven continuous houses are far removed from 102. We can say the same for unregulated laser courses and one of the fundamental reasons members of the general public are still experiencing ineffective treatment and worse burns and unwanted pigmentation changes.

Our entire industry is at a curvature, it has always evolved, and it is evolving again. Education is always key, clients want to know more, clinics want to offer more, and that is all underpinned by education. It should be rewarding and above all worthwhile. We see through rigorous research the poor client outcomes, and dissatisfaction has often come from a lack of or inadequate quality training, exacerbated by a lack of quality control procedures. Nothing impresses a potential client and has them recommending you and your clinic quite like having confidence in you and your establishment. No matter why you are taking a new course, for a further qualification or building upon skills with a CPD course, the quality of that course will be fundamental to how you are perceived by the general public and your peers. Taking the longer course, not the shortcut will define you as a professional in your field, you will become that specialist everyone talks about.


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