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an intro to t-levels.

T-Levels are not new, but it is entirely possible that this is the first you have heard of them. And you may be wondering - what happened to B through to S Levels? It's not an administrative error; the T stands for "Technical", and the qualification is designed to be a technical alternative to the more theoretically based A-Level.

What are T-Levels?

T-Levels were introduced in September 2020 as an alternative to A-Levels, NVQs and apprenticeships. They are designed for students who wish to develop technical skills but require the support of a classroom and the flexibility of hybrid study patterns.

This versatile qualification is delivered over two years and includes at least 315 hours/45 days' worth of work experience gained through a relevant industry placement. The resulting qualification is broadly equivalent to 3 A-Levels and is approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (the Institute).

Employers can offer industry placements to T-Level students as a block, day release, or a mixture of the two and it is possible for the placement hours to be shared between two employers where this is necessary or beneficial to the student.

What construction related T-Levels exist?

There are 6 T-Levels that are relevant to students wishing to pursue a career in the construction industry. These are:

1. Design, surveying and planning for construction. 

This course is designed for anybody wishing to pursue a career in construction, in particular, with an interest in surveying, civil engineering, hazardous materials surveying and building services design.

It is anticipated that students who successfully complete their course will be well placed to progress into construction industry roles such as building control officer, geospatial technician and civil engineering technician.

2. Building services engineering for construction.

This course focuses on niche areas of construction, including electrical installation and maintenance, plumbing and heating. It is designed to steer students into roles such as heating and ventilation engineers, building services engineers and engineering construction technicians.

3. Onsite construction.

As suggested by the name, the onsite construction T-Level aims to support students to head into a core construction role such as carpentry, bricklaying, plastering or decorating. Students who successfully complete this course will be well placed to work on sites and in homes and businesses laying bricks, plastering, shopfitting and painting.

4. Design and development for engineering and manufacturing.

This in-depth course will prepare students for a career as a CAD Technician or a 3D printing technician and will cover topics such as customer and client requirements, the principles of design and design processes.

5. Engineering, manufacturing, processing and control.

This course covers a wide range of engineering, manufacturing, processing and control functions and is designed to support students in developing their technical ability and theoretical knowledge such that they will be able to pursue a practical career in a field such as boat building, mechanical engineering or welding once they complete their training.

6. Maintenance, installation and repair for engineering and manufacturing.

Students who are keen to get hands-on will be excited by the possibilities offered by this course, which will set students up for a career as a mechanic or engineer across a range of sectors. In addition to engineering maintenance and telecoms engineer roles which are relevant to the UK construction industry, this course will also equip students with the skills that they will need to pursue other maintenance careers, such as motor mechanics and auto electricians.

Are they enough to bridge the skills gap? 

T-Levels are a compromise between purely classroom-based study and an apprenticeship, giving students the opportunity to develop their knowledge in a safe environment and then put it into practice on a practical industry placement.

They will provide students with the knowledge and hands-on experience that is necessary to enter the workplace and add value with a minimal additional training burden.

Will they be popular with students and employers? 

The nationally recognised qualification at the end of the study is designed to offer students the choice between progressing into further education or entering the workplace immediately. It is hoped that offering an alternative to A-Levels and apprenticeships will appeal to those who have yet to settle on a final career choice but who have a general interest in practical studies.

Employers will certainly appreciate accessing skilled young talent, particularly where they have already provided a student placement to somebody that has added benefit during their time with the organisation. 

Will they be valued enough?

The construction industry is desperately under-staffed and needs to embrace every opportunity to access a new generation of enthusiastic talent. Students who have achieved a T-Level qualification will be well placed to add value to their workplace and should be highly valued by prospective employers.

In conclusion, T-Levels certainly have a place and employers would be wise to connect with education providers that offer relevant courses in a bid to gain early access to talent.

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