In the ever-evolving landscape of education and vocational training, T-Levels have emerged as a promising option for students seeking practical, industry-relevant skills. However, a recent survey conducted by Rubitek revealed that many employers are still unsure about the benefits of T-Levels and how to support students pursuing them.
In this blog post, we aim to shed light on T-Levels and their potential advantages for both employers and students. Read on to discover how T-Levels can transform your workforce, and how providing T-Level placements can support students in gaining much needed real-world experience.
T-Levels, or Technical Levels, are a new qualification in the UK designed to bridge the gap between traditional academic pathways and vocational training. These two-year courses offer students a blend of classroom learning and substantial work placements in their chosen industry, making them highly valuable for those seeking hands-on experience.
The Rubitek Experience
Rubitek is proud to be a T-Level Ambassador (you can find out more about the ambassador network here), and has been actively involved in supporting T-Level placements. Our current cohort of 4 who are attending training at Leicester College are engaged in a range of very different but exciting projects. Working alongside our Rubitek colleagues, they are gaining real-world experience while studying.
This practical approach to education aligns with the core principles of T-Levels, offering students a unique opportunity to apply their skills in a professional setting.
Challenges Faced by T-Levels
Recent reports have highlighted certain challenges associated with T-Levels:
A significant concern is the dropout rate, with approximately one-third of T-Level students not completing their courses. This raises questions about the effectiveness and support structures for these programs - https://feweek.co.uk/t-levels-results-2023-1-in-3-students-dropped-out.
Rubitek's own research highlights that of those Colleges who chose to deliver T-Levels, many are reconsidering, citing a lack of T-Level industry placements from employers as a major barrier to completion.
A damning Ofsted report revealed that students felt misled into enrolling in T-Levels, while experienced teachers faced difficulties delivering the complex curriculum -https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/t-level-thematic-review-final-report/t-level-thematic-review-final-report .
Employers have also expressed dissatisfaction and a lack of understanding regarding the mandatory 315-hour industry placements, while some placements were deemed unsuitable for the subjects being studied.
The plan to roll out more T-Levels by 2025 will create a surge in T-Level students, and the lack of mandatory 45-day or 315-hour industry placements is a significant concern.
One promising aspect of T-Levels is the involvement of industry experts in curriculum development. For instance: the Hair, Beauty, and Aesthetics T-Level was developed in collaboration with Toni and Guy; the Animal Care and Management T-Level with the Dogs Trust; and the Human Resources T-Level with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. It's clearly important that collaborations like this happen, but the challenge lies in ensuring that the curriculum is both relevant and engaging for students, and that their placements with employers provide appropriate opportunities that support the qualification being studied.
Read here about how to craft effective curriculum.
How Employers Can Benefit from T-Levels
Community Engagement: Supporting T-Levels allows your organisation to engage with local educational institutions. This can enhance your company's reputation within the community and foster positive relationships with educational partners.
An Extended Job Interview: Employers who provide placements to T-Level students have an extended period over which to evaluate the performance of the student, with a view to offering them employment once they have completed their qualification. They can also act as a gateway on to an apprenticeship.
Tailored Workforce: T-Levels are designed to meet industry-specific needs. By providing T-Level students with industry placements, or employing them once they graduate, you can bring a fresh injection of energy and skills, and ensure that your workforce is equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary for your sector.
Access to Skilled Talent: T-Level graduates can bring a fresh perspective and up-to-date skills to your organisation. They have undergone extensive practical training and can make an immediate impact.
Reduced Recruitment Costs: T-Level students often complete substantial work placements within their chosen industry. This experience can make them more attractive candidates, reducing your recruitment and training costs.
Funding Support: Employers who provide T-Level industry placements between 1 April 2023 and 31 March 2024 can access financial assistance to cover a range of associated costs including admin, training and other costs such as student travel expenses.
How Employers Can Support T-Level Students
Offer Work Placements: Consider offering T-Level students the opportunity to complete industry placements within your organisation. This practical experience is invaluable for their development.
Provide Mentorship: Assign experienced employees to mentor T-Level students during their placements. This guidance can help students navigate the workplace and gain confidence.
Stay Informed: Keep abreast of developments in the T-Level program and engage with educational institutions to better understand the curriculum and how it aligns with your industry.
T-Level Ambassadors Network: Join the network to raise awareness and promote T Levels and industry placements to other employers.
T-Levels have the potential to bridge the gap between education and employment, offering students practical skills and valuable industry experience. While there are challenges to overcome, employers can play a crucial role in supporting T-Level students and reaping the benefits of a skilled and industry-ready workforce. By understanding the program, offering work placements, and providing mentorship, employers can help shape the future of vocational education in the UK.
How does Rubitek help?
Ready to unlock the potential of T-Levels for your business? Rubitek's practical expertise in delivering high quality T-Level placements can guide you through the process. Contact us today to explore how we can help align T-Levels with your industry needs, identify and develop exciting projects that add real value to your organisation, and provide support throughout the placement journey. Together, we can bridge the gap between education and industry, shaping a skilled and future-ready workforce.