Education secretary Justine Greening will today announce the first three new T levels. According to the government’s T-level Action Plan, published today, the first subjects available will be education and childcare, construction and digital. These are set to be introduced in 2020, with the rest to be available by 2022.
While only a small number of providers will offer the first three qualifications from 2020, all pathways from the first six “priority routes” will be delivered by selected providers the following year, according to the government. This will be followed by further expansions until the “vast majority” of providers will offer T levels by 2024. The process to determine which providers will deliver the qualifications in 2020 will be confirmed by the government this autumn.
'Transforming technical education'
Ms Greening said the government was transforming technical education in this country, developing home-grown talent so that Britain’s young people have the world-class skills and knowledge that employers need.
“As we prepare to leave the EU, it is more important than ever that we create an outstanding further education and skills system, giving all young people the opportunity to fulfil their potential and deliver a better future for our country,” she added.
“As part of making sure that the technical education ladder reaches every bit as high as the academic one, I want to see T levels that are as rigorous and respected as A levels.”
The decision to introduce T levels followed recommendations by the Sainsbury review in 2016, which found that the existing system was too complex and included too many qualifications, and did not provide young people with the necessary skills to excel at work. The new vocational qualifications will be supported by funding worth £60 million in 2018-19, rising to £445 million in 2021-22, and eventually to “over £500 million” a year.
According to the government, T levels will be a milestone in transforming technical education in the UK and extend the offer for young people to study a technical qualification at level 3 – equivalent to A levels.
The content of T level programmes will be developed by newly appointed panels comprising industry professionals and employers, including EDF, Rolls Royce, Fujitsu, Lloyds, Morgan Sindall, Skanska and Morphy Richards. The government will today confirm that panels have been launched across all six routes for delivery in 2020 and 2021.
'The same quality as A levels'
Review chairman Lord Sainsbury said he was “delighted the government is pressing ahead with these essential reforms to technical education”. “T levels will increase the life chances of many thousands of young people, while at the same time helping to ensure British industry remains competitive,” he added.
“Now that the government has issued its action plan, it is essential that everyone involved starts preparing for the introduction of T levels. Government, the education sector, industry, local enterprise partnerships and combined authorities now need to put in the necessary resources and effort, and not wait until the last moment before taking the necessary action.”
David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said: “The new T levels will need to fight hard to gain recognition and to be valued, but this announcement is a good first step. I look forward to working with the government on developing the pathways from level 2 through levels 3, 4 and 5 which are needed for success."
Neil Carberry, managing director for people policy at the CBI, said: “Businesses will be encouraged by the positive progress on the introduction of T levels, though there is still much for companies and the government to address together. It’s important that these new technical routes are woven into the wider education system from the start, to ensure they are respected and are seen to have the same quality as A levels.”
The government's plan for T levels:
• 2020 - three pathways delivered by a small number of providers
- childcare and education (education pathway)
- digital (software applications design pathway)
- construction (building, services, engineering pathway)
• 2021 – all pathways from the first six "priority routes" delivered by selected providers
- legal, finance, accounting (full route)
- childcare and education (full route)
- digital (full route)
- construction (full route)
- engineering and manufacturing (full route)
- health and science (full route)
• 2022 – all pathways from all routes available to be delivered by providers that want to/are able
- hair and beauty (full route)
- agriculture, environment and animal care (full route)
- business and administration (full route)
- catering and hospitality (full route)
- creative design (full route)
• 2024 – vast majority of providers offering T levels