From education to employment

T Levels are a source of pride and optimism

Jennifer Coupland, chief executive of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education

Jennifer Coupland @IfATechEd reflects on the encouraging progress being made with #TLevels:

The first T Levels launched this month in a climate that I doubt anyone could have imagined as little as a year ago.

It has been wonderful to see training kick off successfully in classrooms. I see it as a small, but nevertheless steady and defiant, step towards establishing T Levels as a mainstay of technical education for our nation’s young people for many years to come.

The first T Levels to go live for 16 to 19-year-olds were for digital production, design and development; design, surveying and planning for construction; and education and childcare. The feedback we have received so far from training providers has been very positive.

We are all too aware of the many challenges the COVID-19 pandemic poses everyone in education and training and are determined to do everything we can to support learners, employers and providers through these unprecedented times.

I would like to think the encouraging developments with T Levels can provide us all with a source of pride and optimism.

We signed contracts this week with City & Guilds and Pearson for the development and delivery of T Levels that will go live from September 2022.

These T Levels will serve the engineering, manufacturing, management and administration, and finance and accounting sectors.

T Levels combine classroom theory, practical learning and a 3-month (minimum 45 days) industry placement with an employer to make sure students have real experience of the workplace. They are likely to suit young people who know they want to go down a particular work-based training route but may not feel quite ready to start a full-time job with an apprenticeship.

I have been involved with the development of T Levels from the start.

I remember when they were first conceived following publication of Lord Sainsbury’s influential post-16 skills plan for technical education, in 2016, which called for a rationalised and higher quality skills training system.

I am proud to have overseen their early development during three years as the Department for Education’s director of professional and technical education. It has also been a pleasure steering T Levels towards fruition since taking over at the Institute last autumn.

I have seen the rigour applied in their initial design, with large numbers of employers, and the vital work going into preparing for teaching with awarding organisations and providers.

A huge amount of impressive work has gone into T Levels and I have every confidence in the product being delivered.

Make no mistake, they will provide students with a broad range of fantastic skills that employers want and need.

This is a long-term project that has full backing from the government. We are going to be gradually scaling up the number of young people benefitting from them in the coming years to the point where they can start to become a major driving for wider economic improvement.

The outlook may be uncertain in so many ways and for so many people due to COVID-19 and there is no point pretending otherwise.

However, I can assure you our vision for T Levels is clear. We will keep on working relentlessly with our partner organisations to deliver a first-rate learning experience that complements brilliant apprenticeships. The country needs hope and a vision of better things to come and T Levels are contributing to that.

Jennifer Coupland, Chief Executive of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education

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