In recent news, Education Secretary Damian Hinds has recently announced the first 52 colleges and post-16 providers to offer the new T-Levels starting from September 2020. T-Levels which are the “technical equivalent” to A-Levels provide youngsters over 16 with the option to continue academically or taking the technical route.
Initially, T-Levels won’t drill down into specific occupations, although this could change during the final roll out stages. Potentially offering specific routes for professions including plumbing, concrete repair and restoration and heating.
Alongside courses in construction, post-16 students can choose from digital or education and childcare, with an additional twenty-two courses rolling out in stages from 2021. This includes courses in engineering and manufacturing, creative and design and finance and accounting.
First announced in 2016, T-Levels will be co-created with employers to ensure students receive industry supported knowledge and are taught important skills that are required to land a skilled job.
Students will spend two years learning a mix of technical knowledge and practical skills for their preferred industry and will each be offered a minimum of a 45-day placement with an industry-specific firm. In addition to the relevant English, Maths, Digital and workplace skills that employers will expect as a basic requirement.
Students who complete their T-Level will be awarded a certificate that is nationally recognised by employers with an overall pass grade equivalent to A-Level. While further occupational specific courses will be added over time, initially the first construction industry course will be design, surveying and planning.
T-Levels in Construction
Although the introduction of T-Levels has generally been well-received, the Federation of Master Builders show (understandable) concern that individuals completing these courses will deem themselves as “qualified”.
Unfortunately, due to the nature of construction and the structure of T-Levels, 2 years of classroom learning will not be enough experience and more time on-site, post T-Level, will be expected by employers.
Potentially, T-Levels in construction stands to offer more knowledgeable students who can go on to take apprenticeships with construction firms, before considering themselves qualified. Considering the current support for a wide range of apprenticeships, this will offer a better opportunity for students wishing to specialise in a particular occupation.
With the full roll-out of T-Levels expected in 2022 lasting through to final adoption in 2024, it will be interesting to see how education and apprenticeships will be affected. Time will tell if more students choose a T-Level and apprenticeship route or will choose to seek out a paid apprenticeship in their chosen occupation.