T-Levels are part of the government’s plan to reduce the skills shortages, increase the employability and technical abilities of the workforce and boost the country’s economy and productivity. But what are they and how will they work? This article aims to answer these questions.
What are T- Levels?
T-Levels are a technical study programme which will run alongside the current apprenticeship and traineeship offering. According to the action plan, they are the next step, a higher-level offer between higher-level apprenticeships and more formal academic FE qualifications, which will bridge the gap between school/college and degree-level study/ apprenticeships.
Where apprenticeships last around 12 months and are a work-based route with lots of on -he-job training to meet apprenticeship standards and only 20% spent studying, the T-Level will last around two years working full time with a college or training provider and will be primarily taught in a classroom or simulated work environment with up to 3 months spent on a work placement. The idea is that the learners who follow the T- Levels will be achieving formal technical qualifications of Level 3 standard, equivalent roughly to three A-Levels, as well as developing technical skills and knowledge, and gaining experience and workplace behaviours necessary to work in skilled and technical occupations.
Which industry areas will be covered?
The T-Levels will be rolled out in waves, a few at a time, but current projections include the following areas:
• childcare and education
• engineering and manufacturing
• hair and beauty
• legal, finance and accounting
• health and science
• agriculture, environment and animal care
• catering and hospitality
• business and admin
• creative and design
Who are they for?
They are for anyone wishing to gain technical and workplace experience alongside a technical qualification. They are designed to support entry into skilled employment and to suit a wide range of students and progression routes – they have been designed with progressing onto further higher-level or degree-level apprenticeships as well as technical degrees.
As they are aiming to be a broader programme of study which can lead to a wider range of roles, rather than the single occupation pathway through an apprenticeship, they are perfect for those with an idea of an area they wish to work in without perhaps having a firm idea of which role.
What’s the plan?
The action plan states:
‘They will support young people and adults to secure a lifetime of sustained skilled employment and meet the needs of our growing and rapidly changing economy, contributing to improving individuals’ social mobility and economic productivity.’
The thinking behind the T- Levels also contains the wish to put an end to the often-confusing plethora of qualifications currently available, many of which are said to hold little value as they are not actively sought by employers. As with apprenticeships, the hope is that these will be actively sought, if not demanded, by employers as a recognised qualification with weight and status because of its nature in terms of blending practical, workplace experience with technical knowledge, which better prepares students for entering skilled employment. Furthermore, as panels made up of employers, professional bodies and providers are working together to develop the content and curriculum for these qualifications, they are (touch-wood) going to be relevant, realistic and of real value to students and employers alike.
The government and the thinkers behind the T-Levels hope that they will be part of a ‘skills revolution’ and a ‘skills partnership between government, businesses, and education and training providers’ through their ability to link a wide range of institutions and training providers with employers and businesses, and providing learners with the knowledge they require in supportive and suitable teaching facilities, and both real and simulated workplace environments.
What do you need to do?
Funding of around £74m has been allocated for the period April 2018 – July 2019, specifically for providers to use to prepare for delivering the T- Levels effectively. The government wishes for the majority of providers to be offering a wide variety of T-Levels by 2024.
This means that now is the time to access this funding, do your research, and begin looking into your options and any changes you need to make, including the availability of employer links and simulated workplace environments and workshops, so that you’re ready to roll out the T- Level.
I can see a lot of benefits for learners and employers equally, as well as industry and the economy as a whole, but for these benefits to occur, the transition to T-Levels needs to be as well-planned, well-thought out and as simple as we can make it.