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T Level rollout takes next steps

Alex Burghart, Minister for Skills
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Students looking to study technical qualifications when they’ve completed their GCSEs will have clearer training options that help them get high-skilled, high-paid jobs, as more T Levels are rolled out and qualifications are streamlined.

Over 175 colleges will be offering T Levels from this September. T Levels are high-quality technical alternative qualifications to A levels for 16–19-year-olds, which include a placement of at least 45 days in a workplace.  All the courses have been designed in close cooperation with employers, so they provide young people with the specific skills and knowledge they need to get a job or go on to further study – helping to support our economy and fill local skills gaps.

As part of the rollout, a small number of qualifications that overlap with T Levels are being retired to ensure young people have access to clearer, high-quality options, alongside T Levels and A levels.

This will help students to find the courses that give them the skills needed to progress and get a good job more easily, rather than wasting time searching through lots of different duplicate courses, helping the economy to recover and grow to tackle the cost of living. 

This aligns with standard practice in academic awards, where GCSEs replaced O Levels in the 1980s and when reformed A levels replaced their predecessors in the last decade.

A provisional list of 160 level 3 qualifications has been published today (11 May), out of over 2,000 qualifications, representing a small proportion of the options available at this level.

Minister for Skills Alex Burghart said:

“Young people deserve a clear path and understanding of the qualifications and training routes that will lead to great careers. Retiring qualifications that overlap with new, more rigorous qualifications has long been standard practice with academic qualifications and will help end the confusion and complexity we know puts some young people off studying technical options.

“This is the next step in our roll out of world-class T Levels: a long-term transformation of technical education which will ensure the qualifications on offer meet the needs of employers and support more people into higher skilled, higher wage jobs.”

All the qualifications on the list were rigorously and independently assessed to ensure funding is only removed from those that overlap with the first ten T Levels that are already available to young people. The qualifications on the list will be retired from August 2024 giving providers 2 years’ notice to prepare.

The publication of the list is the latest step in the government’s plan to transform technical education and the post-16 qualifications landscape by streamlining and boosting the quality of the qualifications available at level 3, so students have a clearer choice of the options that will help them to succeed.

The government carried out two consultations to determine what types of qualifications should continue to be funded at level 3, so that all future qualifications are high-quality and lead to good outcomes, and so as many young people as possible can benefit from studying pioneering new T Level courses.

Alongside T Levels and A levels, the government has confirmed it will approve a range of qualifications where they are needed and meet new quality criteria. This could include many qualifications that are part of the current offer for example City & Guilds qualifications and Pearson BTECs. Approval of these qualifications will commence from autumn 2022. Young people will still be able to study a combined path involving a mixture of A-Levels and BTECs.

There are already 10 T Levels available with a further 6 being rolled out in Sept 2022. Over 175 providers will be offering T Levels from September 2022, with around 400 providers due to deliver them from September 2023.

The introduction of T Levels are part of long-term reforms to technical education, building on the Wolf Review and Sainsbury Review of Technical Education that underlined that many students entering the world of work lack the technical knowledge, transferable skills and behaviours required and expected by employers to perform successfully in occupations, despite holding a technical qualification.

As a first step towards streamlining the post-16 qualifications system, in August 2021 the government confirmed that it would remove funding for more than 5,000 qualifications at level 3 and below that had no or low enrolments. Public funding for these qualifications will be removed later this year, making it easier for students to find a course that is right for them.

Bev Robinson OBE, Principal and Chief Exec Blackpool and The Fylde College said,

“We want every young person to have the opportunity of studying up to date, meaningful qualifications, which is why, at Blackpool and The Fylde College, we chose to apply to deliver T levels and have been doing so since September 2020.  T levels have provided our students with the opportunity to benefit from the most contemporary curriculum and strong employer engagement leading to vibrant career opportunities and higher education; perfect for the diverse community that we serve.    

“Qualification reform has been a long time coming, is welcomed by our employer-partners and contributes to the skills-led recovery.  I believe the long lead time on this change is generous and gives providers ample opportunity to plan appropriately. We have found the support from DfE to be comprehensive.”

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