Education Secretary Justine Greening, has today (11 October) announced the first three T levels in Digital, Construction, and Education and Childcare, which will help deliver a generation of home-grown talent post-Brexit.
The first of the new qualifications, with content developed by leading industry professionals from companies including Rolls Royce, Fuijitsu and EDF, will be taught from 2020, with the full set of T levels introduced by 2022.
First announced in 2016 and backed by £500million every year in additional funding the qualifications are a key milestone in transforming technical education in the UK and extends the offer for young people to study a technical qualification at level 3 - equivalent to A levels.
Education Secretary Justine Greening said:
"We are transforming technical education in this country, developing our home grown talent so that our young people have the world class skills and knowledge that employers need.
"As we prepare to leave the EU, it is more important than ever that we create an outstanding further education and skills system, giving all young people the opportunity to fulfil their potential and deliver a better future for our country.
"As part of making sure that the technical education ladder reaches every bit as high as the academic one, I want to see T levels that are as rigorous and respected as A levels."
Each route groups together related occupations which require common knowledge, skills and behaviours. These routes are further broken down into a number of specialisms, clustered together in a straightforward way so that young people can see a clear path to the occupation of their choice.
The content of T levels will be developed by newly appointed panels comprising industry professionals and employers – including EDF, Rolls Royce, Fujitsu, Lloyds, Morgan Sindall, Skanska and Morphy Richards – ensuring that they have real credibility. The Government is today confirming that panels have been launched across all 6 routes for delivery in 2020 and 2021.
All T level programmes will also include a substantial, high quality work placement so that students can apply their learning in a real workplace environment.
Fujitsu’s non-executive Chairman, Simon Blagden, said:
"I’m delighted to see the progress that the Department for Education is making on the implementation of T levels. The introduction of these technical programmes will provide young people with skill sets that are valuable and relevant to employers, helping to create skilled employment opportunities for school leavers.
"In particular, the support being put in place for work placements will be crucial in ensuring that students are able to gain experience of a work environment, helping them move from education to employment in a more seamless manner.
"The decision to introduce the new programmes came after an Independent Panel on technical education, chaired by Lord Sainsbury, in 2016 found that the existing system was too complex and included too many qualifications, which did not provide young people with the necessary skills to excel at work."
Lord David Sainsbury, chairman of the Independent Panel on Technical Education, whose report led to the reforms said:
"I am delighted the government is pressing ahead with these essential reforms to technical education. T levels will increase the life-chances of many thousands of young people, while at the same time helping to ensure British industry remains competitive.
"Now that the Government has issued its Action Plan it is essential that everyone involved starts preparing for the introduction of T levels. Government, the education sector, industry, LEPs and Combined Authorities now need to put in the necessary resources and effort, and not wait until the last moment before taking the necessary action."
David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges said:
"The publication this week represents a really important step forward for technical and professional skills training and education.
"Our future economic and social prosperity rely on more people having higher technical skills and education - both to help improve productivity and to help people realise their talents and ambitions.
"The new T levels will need to fight hard to gain recognition and to be valued, but this announcement is a good first step. I look forward to working with the Government on developing the pathways from Level 2 through Levels 3, 4 and 5 which are needed for success."
Neil Carberry, CBI Managing Director for People policy, said:
"Businesses will be encouraged by the positive progress on the introduction of T levels, though there is still much for companies and the Government to address together. It’s important that these new technical routes are woven into the wider education system from the start, to ensure they are respected and are seen to have the same quality as A levels.
"There has never been a more important time to deliver world class training for our young people in every part of the UK. Investment in skills by employers and the Government, working in partnership, is key to giving young people the opportunities they need to succeed."
The successful completion of a T level will equip students with the technical knowledge and practical skills necessary to enter skilled employment.
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