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Last edited 20 Feb 2019
First announced in 2016, ‘T levels’ create an additional route for young people to study a technical qualification at level 3; equivalent to A levels.
In October 2017, the then-Education Secretary Justine Greening, launched three T levels in digital, construction, and education and childcare. These three T Levels will be taught from 2020, with the full set introduced by 2022.
Each route groups together related occupations which require common knowledge, skills and behaviours. These routes are further broken down into specialisms, clustered together so that young people can see a clear path to the occupation of their choice.
The content of T levels will be developed by panels comprising industry professionals and employers, including; EDF, Rolls Royce, Fujitsu, Lloyds, Morgan Sindall, Skanska and Morphy Richards. They will also include a substantial work placement so that students can apply their learning in a real workplace environment.
Greening said; “We are transforming technical education in this country, developing our home grown talent so that our young people have the world class skills and knowledge that employers need… 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.”
Lord David Sainsbury, chairman of the Independent Panel on Technical Education, whose report led to the reforms said: “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.”
FMB chief executive Brian Berry said; “One of the biggest potential stumbling blocks for the T level initiative will be the required amount of work experience for each young person. T levels will rely on all students being able to complete three months’ work experience with an employer in their second year. Given that CITB statistics show the number of young people in construction-related further education far outweighs the number of apprenticeship places being offered by employers we need to find a solution to this problem."
Richard Beresford, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders (NFB), said; “The make-up of the panel developing the content of construction T levels should be more representative, with SMEs playing a more predominant role since they account for 98% of the industry.”
Click here to see the full T levels Action Plan.
On 5 January 2017, the membership of the T levels panels, responsible for developing the outline content for new T levels, was confirmed. The panels are made up of employers, professional bodies and providers and help in creating technical education programmes. (Ref. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/t-level-panels-membership)
 T Level providers
On 27 May 2018, the Education Secretary Damian Hinds named the first 52 colleges and other providers set to teach T levels. (Ref. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-t-levels-mark-a-revolution-in-technical-education)
Hinds said; "T levels represent a once in a lifetime opportunity to reform technical education in this country so we can rival the world’s best performing systems. Naming the first 52 colleges and providers where young people will be able to study the first T levels is an important step forward, and we will continue the work with business and the education sector so everyone can benefit from these vital reforms."
Mark Lawton, Construction T level panel member at Skanska said; "We continue to support efforts which increase the accessibility of opportunities to people from all backgrounds – helping to develop a more diverse and inclusive industry."
Julia Evans, Chief Executive, BSRIA, said; "The construction sector’s demand for suitable skilled workers is as crucial as ever. What is clear is that T levels , A levels, apprenticeships and TechBacc programmes are all equally vital."
However, on 29 May 2018, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) questioned whether the government was being realistic about the capabilities and work-readiness of students who have completed construction T levels.
Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said; “The idea that a student who has completed a T level in bricklaying is able to call themselves a qualified bricklayer is not credible. The government must be realistic about how much can be achieved in two years of largely college-based learning.
"Although T levels include a three-month work placement, when the rest of the individual’s knowledge and skills are acquired in the classroom, in construction they will need more time onsite, post-T level, before they can and should describe themselves as being qualified in that trade. Small and medium-sized construction firms, which do the bulk of training in our industry, would rather view T levels as a rich pool of talent through which to find apprentices.”
In September 2018, the Department for Education (DfE) launched a competition inviting bids for groups to win the right to develop, deliver and award the first three T levels (one of which will be construction) from September 2020. The successful bidders will be awarded exclusive rights to deliver the construction T level, and make sure it is of high quality. The Invitation to Tender remains open to bids until 26 October 2018. The contracts are expected to be awarded in early-March 2019.
In January 2019, the government announced that it would invest £38m from the T Level Capital Fund in new classrooms, building refurbishments and equipment upgrades for T Level construction and building services engineering courses. Ref https://www.gov.uk/government/news/38-million-t-level-capital-fund-launches--3
In February 2019, the Association of Colleges wanred that T levels may be under threat due to a lack of teachers. Chief Executive David Hughes said: “Adequate funding is needed for colleges to be able to attract and retain the right staff and have the right equipment; current funding levels do not support that so they cannot be delivered.”
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