BUDGET Breaking: £1.6 billion over three years to roll out new T-levels for 16 to 19-year-olds

T Levels

The government plans to spend £1.6 billion over three years to roll out new T-Levels for 16 to 19-year-olds, plus £550 million for adult skills in England.

Currently there are more than 6,000 on T-level courses, but the government hopes to ramp up those numbers.

The government will also spend a further £830m modernising colleges in England.

T Levels are new courses which follow GCSEs and are equivalent to three A levels. These 2-year courses, which launched September 2020, have been developed in collaboration with employers and businesses so that the content meets the needs of industry and prepares students for work, further training or study.

T Levels offer students a mixture of classroom learning and ‘on-the-job’ experience during an industry placement of at least 315 hours (approximately 45 days).

Every T Level includes an industry placement with an employer focused on developing the practical and technical skills required for the occupation. These will last a minimum of 315 hours (approximately 45 days) but can last longer. Employers can offer industry placements as a block, day release or a mix of these, and can discuss sharing part of the placement with another employer if necessary.

Providers will support employers offering industry placements. This will include assistance with the necessary paperwork, a careful planning process and support with designing the industry placement.

Cirencester College has successfully bid for T-level Capital funding to build a specialist centre for T-levels. The funding will support the £5m+ investment in skills important for Gloucestershire, Swindon, North Wiltshire and West Oxfordshire to meet the needs of local business through T-levels and provide access for local people to well-paid careers in construction, green engineering, finance, health science, accountancy and early years education.

Leading college group WCG (formerly Warwickshire College Group) runs colleges across Warwickshire and Worcestershire – including sites at Leamington, Pershore, Warwick, Moreton Morrell, Rugby and Evesham

The college group is one of the trailblazers in the introduction of T-Levels and saw the start of its first T-Level route in September.

The Digital T Level is now being offered by the college group and it has been approved to deliver the Health and Science, Engineering and Manufacturing, and Construction routes from September 2022.

Reacting to the announcement of new funding for T Levels and adult education, Angela Joyce, CEO of WCG, said: “Our college group was one of the first to introduce T Levels and we have a firm belief that the qualifications will be integral to the success of the future economy, locally, regionally and nationally.

“These are qualifications designed to generate the skilled workforce of the future. To make these courses a success, colleges need work closer with employers and we have already forged strong relationships with businesses in our region to support the delivery of T Levels.

To do this, colleges need more funding. For the last two decades colleges have been the part of our UK education system that have seen largest scale funding cuts and this needs to be reversed to support the Government’s new post-16 education agenda.

“Colleges will deliver on training, reskilling and upskilling a UK workforce, provided Government supports us.

“We will continue to expand our T Level programmes but we need funding and investment to support the expansion.

“The additional funding for adult skills and retraining is welcomed. Life expectancy is continuing to lengthen with people’s working lives extending as a result and people will likely change careers several times in their lifetime.

“Adult reskilling should be as important as training young people when it comes to supporting the future economy. There are jobs now that didn’t exist 10 years ago and the same will be true 10 years from now. We hope this change in approach from Government will continue allowing Colleges to play their vital role in plugging skills gaps.”

Kirstie Donnelly MBE, CEO of City & Guilds Group, said:   “Whilst we welcome the Chancellor’s spending package for professional and technical education, we need more clarity over whether the Chancellor’s commitments to the sector are new, or merely a rehash of funding that was already allocated and sold to us as something ‘new’. With a million jobs left unfilled (along with our supermarket shelves and petrol tanks) there is too much at stake to get this wrong.”

“What we’re still not seeing is a comprehensive long-term strategy, that connects the dots of careers advice, pre and post 16 education and employment to local labour market needs and creates longer term growth and productivity.”