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Skills minister: T levels 'a once-in-a-generation' opportunity to boost technical education

The publication of today's T levels Action Plan represents another step towards putting technical education on a par with other routes to employment, skills minister Anne Milton writes

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The publication of today's T levels Action Plan represents another step towards putting technical education on a par with other routes to employment, skills minister Anne Milton writes

Since my appointment as the skills and apprenticeships minister, it’s been great to meet young people and education providers across the country. I have been struck by the inspiring stories they've told me about the routes they've taken into employment through technical education.

What has surprised me, though, is that there are still many who consider a non-academic route to employment to be unconventional. So I am delighted that we have, this week, taken another step forward to put in place a once-in-a-generation-overhaul of technical skills by publishing the new T levels Action Plan. 

This is another important step in our mission to put technical education on a par with other routes to employment. To make sure this happens, we will be investing £500 million per year into T levels, once all the routes are up and running.

Today, we announced the first three T levels we will put in place in 2020 – digital, construction, and education and childcare – with the full suite of T levels to be up and running by 2022.

In introducing these routes first, we are responding to the clear economic challenges as the country looks ahead toward a future outside of the European Union. We are determined to make sure people have the skills we need.

What sets these qualifications apart is the way they are being developed. We have always been clear that the only way to successfully put these reforms in place is through genuine partnerships between business, government and educators. One team for skills.

'Quality is at the forefront of T levels'

Employers will take a lead role, and it is absolutely right that they do – after all, these are the people who know exactly what skills are required for the future. However, I am also clear that at every stage the process must also be informed by education specialists. 

That is why I am delighted that the T-level panels that we have confirmed this week include a diverse range of industry representatives – including from EDF, Rolls Royce, Fujitsu, Lloyds, Morgan Sindall, Skanska and Morphy Richards, to name a few – which sit alongside education specialists to develop the core content for T levels.

This commitment to the spirit of co-creation will help design T-level content that is world class and reflects the needs of our economy.

We will ensure that quality is at the forefront of this new qualification by offering each subject under exclusive licensing, in line with the recommendations of the Independent Panel on Technical Education. Additionally, as part of their T level programme, every student will undertake a structured, high-quality work placement to put into practice what they have learned in the classroom. 

Making sure that technical education achieves the same level of esteem as its academic counterpart has been a key area of focus for me since taking up this role. T levels will sit alongside our continued investment in apprenticeships and the creation of prestigious new Institutes of Technologies in our plan to achieve this.

I look forward to working with the sector and to hearing their contributions as they join in with consultations. I also look forward to continued collaboration with employers, providers and assessors to implement these routes and to understand how we can support the sector in their preparation for delivering T levels.

Anne Milton is the minister for skills and apprenticeships

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