We know T Levels are coming and the more we learn about what they are, the more we begin to understand the impact on the different stakeholders involved. Of course, there will be many challenges as colleges and businesses come together; however, there are huge benefits for the individual, for companies, and for the economy.
Why are T Levels being introduced?
Statistics show that more than 75% of employers are looking for a mix of both academic and technical qualifications when hiring young people. It is statistics like these and the growing skills shortages across the UK that led to the Government developing T Levels as part of Lord Sainsbury’s Post-16 Skills Plan.
The number of those pursuing an apprenticeship has dropped over the last few years. Part of this drop has been attributed to the introduction of The Apprenticeship Levy; however, others have suggested that the current apprenticeship scheme is simply not fit for purpose, and relies too much on the pupil knowing exactly the role they want to pursue.
T Levels form part of the Government’s wider modern Industrial Strategy. This key initiative aims to improve productivity across the country by re-energising businesses, helping them to grow and generate new jobs and opportunities for young people.
What do T Levels mean for pupils?
The primary stakeholder of T Levels will, of course, be pupils. They won’t just achieve an academic qualification at the end of the two-year course – they’ll also have practical skills that will help them to pursue a number of different career paths and this is the work experience that employers are looking for.
Unlike A Levels, T Levels will involve both classroom and workplace learning. This will give those who don’t want to pursue a purely academic route the chance to stay within the education system post-16. It’s the ideal option for a pupil who doesn’t feel quite ready to enter the workplace, but has a good idea of the profession or industry they’re interested in.
The two-year course will be a real commitment to the sector of their choice, and give them a flavour of what it means to be a part of it. Courses will comprise 1,800 hours of learning over the two years, with at least 45 days in the workplace. Grades will be broken down into academic and skills-based achievements, further appealing to those who might have avoided the more traditional educational routes.
A T Level course will hold as much value as A Levels, which is great news for pupils when it comes to starting their career. Ofqual and the Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) will approve the course standards, giving them even greater weight in the eyes of employers. IBM and Lloyds are just two employers reported to already be on board. The goal is for pupils to have a range of exciting employment opportunities upon finishing the course.
What do T Levels mean to the Government?
The Government’s creation of T Levels is to support both young people and employers. Education Secretary Damian Hinds explains, “Technology and the world economy are fast-changing, and we need to make sure our young people have the skills they need to get the jobs of tomorrow. This is at the heart of our modern Industrial Strategy.”
Improving productivity is also a huge part of the Industrial Strategy. The Government wants to see businesses not just surviving, but thriving and growing. This growth will lead to people earning more and the creation of new jobs for young people when they enter the working world.
Filling the growing skills gap that exists in many industries is also a key initiative, and one that the introduction of T Levels can help to address. Digital Production, Design and Development, Surveying and Planning, and Education will be the first three courses to be run.
Though the outcome of Brexit is still unknown, there is concern that the impact of this might make this skills gap wider. This makes it even more important to develop people with the right skills locally to meet the demands of industry.
What do T Levels mean for Businesses?
Businesses will enjoy a number of benefits once T Levels are introduced. Perhaps the most impactful will be an increase of skilled professionals in the marketplace to draw from – individuals with not just academic education, but also real hands-on skills and workplace experience.
Employers will also work with colleges to design the curriculum for courses. This means they can directly impact and shape the education of the young people who will, hopefully, become a part of their business. This development over a longer period of time will help to reduce those skill shortages.
On a practical level, businesses will also be able to introduce pupils to the reality of the working world and what it really means to work within their industry. They can test their skills level, foster new ideas and create staff for the future.
It’s also great PR for businesses. It shows that they care about the next generation and the wider community, helping to start someone’s career with all the skills they need to progress and grow.
What do T Levels mean for colleges?
T Levels will allow colleges to attract and retain a wider spectrum of pupils post-16, including those who previously may have left the education system for work. This offers a huge opportunity for colleges who will receive funding for running T Level courses. Funding will be allocated from the Government to support this new initiative, with a number of colleges shortlisted to roll out the programme. David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges said, “The introduction of T Levels and Higher Technical Qualifications will offer new and better opportunities for thousands of young people and adults, giving them the skills they need to get on in life.” However, he did warn that “adequate funding is needed for colleges to be able to attract and retain the right staff and have the right equipment”.
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Another opportunity for colleges is the chance to partner with local businesses. Engaging the best businesses is key to the success of this new qualification. Finding the right businesses will be a challenge for colleges, which will need financial and performance information about organisations to ensure they’re sending their students to the right place. If you’re a college looking for support screening businesses for T levels, then get in touch – our team are here to help.
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