T levels: Support package for employers launched

Work placements will be at the heart of the new technical qualifications, according to education secretary Damian Hinds

Damian Hinds has launched a new support package to help employers support T levels

A new support package to help businesses back the new T-level qualifications has been announced by the education secretary today.

Damian Hinds said the completion of high-quality industry placement would be “at the heart of every T Level”, and “is part of what will set these new courses apart from every attempt to reform technical and vocational education in the past 70 years”.


More on this: T levels: the 5 big issues yet to be addressed

In depth: DfE: T level work placements ‘hard to deliver’

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New qualifications

He explained that to make a success of T Levels, due to be taught from next year and set out to be equivalent to A levels, he needed businesses working in partnership with government and colleges.

“Industry placements will help young people build the confidence and skills they need to get a head start in their careers and they’ll help business maximise their talent pipeline for the future,” said Mr Hinds, adding the new package announced today was “designed to help ensure we can deliver high-quality placements for every T Level student from 2020”.

The first three T levels for digital, education and construction will be taught from autumn next year, with a further seven to be taught from 2021 and a further 15 added from 2022 onwards.

The large number of employers required to offer a sufficient number of placements for all students has been one of the areas of concern from the education and skills sector as the launch of the first T levels approaches. The industry placement is at the core of the new qualifications, and has to last at least 315 hours, or approximately 45 days. According to the government, more than 200 businesses including Fujitsu and GlaxoSmithKline are already backing the reforms.

Guidance for employers

The announced new package includes new guidance to support employers and providers to offer tailored placements that suit their workplace and the needs of young people, as well as a £7 million pilot scheme to explore ways to help cover the costs associated with hosting a young person in the workplace ahead of the roll-out of the first three T Levels in September 2020.

Bespoke “how to” guides, workshops and practical hands-on support for employers – aimed at making it easy for employers to offer placements – are also part of the package.

Matthew Fell, CBI chief UK policy director, said: "There has long been a need for an increase in prestigious technical options after GCSEs that parents, teachers and businesses understand. This package of measures to help employers deliver placements is welcome, because if T Levels are going to be a success they will require long-term commitment from government. Support will be most needed for small and medium-sized businesses, so special attention should be paid to these firms.’’

'Integral part of T levels'

And David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC) said the organisation was delighted that the Department for Education had responded to college voices advising how best to support successful industry placements as an integral part of T levels. “The new flexibilities directly address our concerns about students with caring responsibilities and part time work. The new approach will allow more young people to study for a T Level and benefit from a placement'.

Jane Gratton, head of people policy at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: “Business has long called for a high-quality vocational alternative to the A levels to ensure young people are work-ready and have greater technical skills and knowledge when they join the workforce. T level industry placements are crucial to developing these enhanced skills, and the greater support and flexibility will enable firms of all sizes to open their doors to young people, introduce them to the exciting careers on offer in the local area, and identify a great pipeline of future talent.”

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