The government has launched new qualifications that sit alongside A-levels, called Technical Levels (T-levels). They have been launched in a variety of subjects including construction, business and administration, and education and childcare. And due for launch in September 2022 will be engineering and manufacturing.
What are T-levels?
They are two-year technical programmes for 16- to 19-year-old students once they have completed their GCSEs. The programmes will be run by local colleges, schools and training providers.
The engineering and manufacturing T-level comprises two parts: the core element and the occupational specialism. The core element consists of two exams and an employer-set project. At the end of the core element, the student will get a grade. This part is completed by every student.
The occupational specialism consists of a choice of three pathways: design and development; maintenance, installation and repair; or manufacturing, process and control. The specialism will be assessed through a practical assignment and students will receive a grade of pass, merit or distinction.
These two results are combined to give an overall grade. City & Guilds has created a guide that explains how this equates to UCAS points, available at cityandguilds.com.
Students are also required to undertake approximately 45 days of industry work placement as part of the qualification. The employer-set project will come from the company providing the placement.
Once they have completed the course, students can continue to higher education, apprenticeships or employment.
Why are T-levels important?
The major advantage of the T-level is the placement, which gives the students an insight into what the world of work is like. If done well, this should inspire the student to complete the course and join the exciting world of engineering. The engineering T-level also provides a ready-made pathway for those students who have already decided that they would like to pursue a technical route.
How can I be involved?
It is important that industry supports the qualification or the learning programme. City & Guilds has been doing an excellent job of engaging with employers to ensure that the skills that the young people will pick up in the study will be relevant for the working world, both practically and theoretically.
It is up to industry to support the placements, so please speak to your employers about how you may be able to support a student from your local school or college. There is guidance on the Department for Education website about how to arrange placements, as well as ideas for the employer-set assessment. There is currently no information about whether there will be grants for companies that support a placement student, but these could be available in the future.
And finally, if you are a parent of a person under 16, it may be worth discussing this as an option for further study.
Many future engineers will be coming through the T-level route, so it’s up to the whole community to ensure that this new qualification has a positive effect on the skills gap.
Find out more
City & Guilds has produced some podcasts in which employers, higher education institutions and course leaders give their views of the T-levels. See: Cityandguilds.com/events/podcasts