Not many Teessiders know about T Levels – but they’re set to have a big impact on careers.
The new qualifications will launch in 2020, but according to a new survey commissioned by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), less than a third of parents are aware of them.
Whether you’re a learner, parent or local employer, here are five reasons why you should know about T Levels.
They can help you stand out to employers
Breaking into the world of work can be daunting for career starters – and with so many students applying for jobs after college or university, standing out from the crowd can be difficult.
That’s why work experience is vital.
T Levels, which will be equivalent to three A Levels, include work placements of at least 45 days – allowing students to get essential hands-on experience in their chosen industry.
Placements will feature sector-specific learning programmes, so students can hit the ground running once they start full-time roles.
18-year-old Callum Myers from Darlington studied a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment at Middlesbrough College and secured a hotly contested work experience placement with Mitie Property Services – as part of the College’s T Levels pilot programme.
He said: “My course was great and opened lots of doors for me but there’s only so much you can learn in the classroom.
“I don’t think you can truly understand what’s expected of you until you experience a real work environment.
“Now I feel like I’ve had a head start in my career.”
Callum now works for Mitie full time as a trainee surveyor, splitting his time between the office and construction sites.
Alongside his role, he will study at university to gain the qualifications required to take him towards Quantity Surveyor building industry standard.
He added: “I feel lucky to have had this opportunity – I get to learn on the job but also continue my education and build new skills.
“I’d definitely recommend T Levels to other students as the work placement experience has been invaluable and you never know what could happen off the back of a placement – just look at me.”
Teesside employers can tailor training to their needs
It’s not just learners who should care about T levels either.
The new qualifications, due to launch in 2020, have been developed with employers to equip learners with the skills they need to enter the world of work.
Shaun Denham, who helped mentor Callum during his placement, started off as an apprentice with Mitie 18 years ago and is now a contracts manager.
He said: “Work experience brings young people into our industry – many of them with huge potential like Callum.
“The great thing with T Levels is that students already have a solid knowledge and understanding of the industry when they come from College. Callum was already training to be a surveyor and we’ve been able to build on his education and shape his skills to suit our needs.”
After taking part in a successful T Level pilot with Middlesbrough College, Mitie is looking forward to continuing this relationship and exploring further opportunities to support T Level training.
Shaun added: “You really feel like you’re playing a part in helping students secure a future in the industry – and as a business, we’re able to recruit quality employees who are already familiar with our ways of working.”
They take a hands-on approach to technical training
18-year-old Connor Campbell studied Level 3 Software Engineering at Middlesbrough College and after a successful T Levels work placement with Autumn Leaf, now works part-time as a back end developer.
He said: “As a student, work placements are so important because employers prefer candidates with that experience.
“At college, the work is mainly theory-based whereas in the work environment, it’s very hands on and you get to work on live client projects – something you can’t do in the classroom.
“If it wasn’t for this work experience, I’d have probably ended up going to university which could have been great but for me, this is so much better suited to the industry.
“This T Level industry placement has changed my life.”
T Levels can help employers grow their talent pool
And Autumn Leaf Digital’s director Sam Roberts has praised T Levels for helping grow his workforce, and the business.
Having considered taking on an apprentice, Sam attended Middlesbrough College’s open day to find out more about the options available to his business.
He said: “As soon as we heard about the extended work placement, we knew it would work for our business.
“Connor settled in straight away and within a few weeks, he was working on a project for one of our biggest clients.
“His placement with us was invaluable and by the end of it, we knew we had to hire him permanently.”
Following a string of client wins and plans to offer another work placement this year, Sam’s encouraging other businesses to take advantage of having a student in the workplace.
“Taking on a work experience student really isn’t as much hassle as people think. You get the opportunity to mentor someone, and the business definitely reaps the rewards.”
Help is on hand to get the most out of T Levels
With courses in industries as wide-ranging as computing, engineering, health and social care and construction, businesses can tap into specialist training and engage their future workforce from an early stage in their career.
Middlesbrough College has been selected as the only College in Tees Valley to deliver T Levels from 2021. Already a success and engaging ambitious learners, this year’s pilot programme will see more than 400 students take on T Level industry placement.
Katharine Hawking, industry placement manager at Middlesbrough College, explained: “T Levels address the pain points that employers report as a barrier to recruiting young people - including lack of hands on experience.
“We’re already working with a number of employers to provide extended industry placements which gives students the opportunity to put into practice what they’re learning in the classroom, while developing technical skills that businesses want and addressing industry needs.”
Katharine added: “It doesn’t cost the business anything other than some of their time, and we’re finding that students then go on to do apprenticeships or join the company as an employee, so it’s a really great way of building that pipeline of talent for the future of a business.”
Are you a student or business interested in finding out more about T Levels? Then get in touch with Katharine Hawking on 01642 333455.