Former Welsh Apprentice of the Year now stylist to the stars

Posted on by karen.smith

A talented young hair stylist has literally been making waves since his career took off after winning the Welsh Government’s Modern Apprenticeship Learner Award in 2009.

Josh Rees Hole, 23, now works at Urban Retreat, the salon at the famous Harrods store in London and has just returned from styling the stars at Miami Fashion Week.

He is held in such high esteem that clients, including members of foreign royal families and celebrities, fly in from all over the world to have their hair styled by him.

Now he is encouraging young apprentices to enter this year’s Apprenticeship Awards Cymru, which are organised by the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW) in partnership with the Welsh Government and sponsored by Pearson. The awards are designed to celebrate the outstanding achievements of learners, employers and apprenticeship providers.

Deputy Minister for Skills, Jeff Cuthbert said: “It is very encouraging to see young people like Josh, who have benefited from apprenticeship programmes. Apprenticeship Awards Cymru is about showcasing such successes and encouraging more businesses to take on apprentices.

“The Welsh Government is committed to creating more apprenticeship opportunities for young people in Wales and continues to support employers who are willing to offer high quality apprenticeship places. Our Young Recruits Programme supports employers to recruit and train additional young apprentices – 16-24 year olds. This programme has been instrumental in sustaining employer confidence in apprenticeship recruitment.”

Entries close at 12 noon on Wednesday, September 28 and the awards will be presented at a high profile ceremony at Mercure Cardiff Holland House Hotel on November 16. For more details about the awards and to download an application form, visit

“It was a massive shock when I won the award in 2009 and it gave me the enthusiasm and confidence to go forward with my career,” said Josh. “It is nice to be recognised and great to have on your cv.

“People still mention the award to me and I would urge all apprentices to be positive and put their names forward because you never know what is waiting around the corner.”

Earlier this year Josh was in the national television spotlight when he competed in E4’s Great British Hairdresser. He moved to London after filming had finished to gain experience working in a top salon and his career has flourished.

Beginning his career at The Hair Business, Cowbridge, he says 2009 was a pivotal year for him. Not only did he win the Modern Apprenticeship Learner of the Year Award but also ISA Training Salon Cymru and went on to represent Great Britain.

He qualified as a State Registered Hairdresser after achieving a Modern Apprenticeship in Hairdressing with Bridgend-based training provider ISA Training and regularly returns to Wales to give masterclasses for the company.

“The last two years have been crazy and I have done so much,” he said. “I would love to work in the Middle East because I have a lot of clients out there. Eventually I want to have my own salon, probably in London.”

Apprenticeship Awards Cymru, which are free to enter, are split into eight categories: Foundation Apprentice of the Year, Apprentice of the Year, Young Apprentice of the Year, Entrepreneurial Apprentice of the Year, Employer of the Year, Medium Employer (10-49 employees) of the Year, Large Employer (50+ employees) of the Year and Apprenticeship Provider of the Year.

From the applications, three finalists will be selected in each category by a distinguished panel of judges. Around 250 stakeholders from the vocational education and training sector across Wales are expected to attend the high profile awards ceremony.

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