The Department for Education launched its campaign for T Levels on 7 October. London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) welcomes this and hopes it is the beginning of a concerted effort to raise awareness of the new qualification, especially with employers.
This new post-GCSE vocational qualification, set to be introduced in 2020, will sit alongside apprenticeships and A Levels and aim to tackle the skills gap and boost productivity. 25 T Levels will be phased in over the next four years. The first three T Levels – in construction, digital, and education will be taught from next year at selected schools, colleges and other FE providers across England. In London, digital and education are being introduced in 2020. The timing and type of these first courses are arguably very timely for London, particularly in light of continuing skills gaps in these industries and the impact of technology.
Low pay and the perceived unattractiveness of working in education, has posed challenges to attracting and filling the numerous jobs available in the industry. The digital sector is growing rapidly and opening up new job opportunities which need to be filled quickly to maintain London’s competitive edge. Changes to our future immigration system risk heightening this problem.
The introduction of T Levels in these sectors could therefore be a real game changer in building up the workforce needed in these sectors, developing young people’s interest and practical experience. As industry placements are a key aspect of T Level courses, it is important that employers are aware of and understand this new qualification. More crucially, it is vital that employers are willing to offer work placements.
Sadly, polling released by LCCI in June showed that 63% of employers were unwilling to offer a job or industry placement to a student. Subsequently, LCCI called for the government to boost its communications around the merits of T Levels to industry. LCCI therefore welcomes the government’s T-Level campaign launch.
But there is more to do. To achieve the scale of industry placements needed for T Levels, it is crucial that the government clearly communicates the business case for offering industry placements and makes it easier for employers to do so, particularly by addressing concerns around the timings of placements and funding.
Esenam Agubretu, Policy Manager at LCCI