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T Levels - All you need to know

IAgrE hosted a forum on 16 February 2023 to explain T Levels and to assist employers and colleges in understanding the format and impact of this new educational initiative on the Landbased sector.

The recording of the forum may be viewed below or on our YouTube Channel.  

The T-Level in Land-based Engineering will become the new vocational course for those wishing to study full time in college from September 2023.  T-Levels are 2 year courses, equivalent to 3 A-levels and will eventually replace the National Diplomas in England.  As an alternative to apprenticeships and A-Levels, the T-Level will give learners a pathway into the industry or higher education, and includes a 45 day industry placement. 

This event was attended by employers and training providers, industry and educational experts gave an overview of the background to the qualification, the content it will cover and the different pathways and routes the young person can take once completed.

Agenda & Speakers:

11.00 - Introduction and welcome
            Charlie Nicklin, CEO IAgrE and member of LE-TEC, promoting Land-based training

11.05 - Overview of T-Levels in the Land-based sector
            Chris Jones, Industry Manager Land-based Services, City & Guilds

11.20 - Content of T-Levels in engineering & technology and how industry/employers can help
            David Kirschner, Independent Land-based Engineering Consultant, involved in the development and review of Apprenticeships & T Levels

11.35 - T-Level Courses - how they work and who is supporting them
            Melvin Johnson, Land-based Engineering Consultant with LANTRA & City & Guilds, with 30 years experience in FE Land-based Engineering Education   

11.50 - Q & A Chaired by Charlie Nicklin


When/how do we find out which providers will be offering the new T-Level?
City and Guilds or Landex are your first point of contact and then local colleges

How do you see the T levels fitting in or is it as an alternative to what we would consider a conventional apprenticeship?
Absolutely not an alternative to an apprenticeship, the T level provides the opportunity to gain employment in the land-based engineering industry and several options to develop a career

What would happen to the learner if i.e. they lose their employment during their programme and cannot for reasons out of their control find another employer?
The learner is not employed they are undertaking part of their qualification in an industry placement. The training provider would be charged with finding an alternative placement. 

From a training provider point of view, why would an employer take on an apprentice (unless levy paying) when they can take on a T level on the same qualification level for free?
Each employer is individual as are their staffing requirements and levels of staff expertise. Cost is another factor as is the sector the employer works in and the size of their business. T level will not suit all just as the previous qualifications didn’t.

By employer, can a self employed mechanic engage with this also?
Yes, sole traders and the self-employed are welcome to engage

Will large manufacturers engage with this when they can put learners on an apprenticeship instead, how broad is the area for the learner to find work experience, i.e. can they work in an ag eng subsidiary such as farm where they home service?
The training provider will decide on the suitability of the industry placement and its ability to meet the qualification needs. I expect there will be some form of external quality control

During a placement is there a set number of hours per week as is the case a young person?
This will be by agreement between the stakeholders, training provider, candidate and employer

I understand that work placement begins in year 2, does that mean the learner can sit through year 1 without an employer with the thought they don't need to have an employer until commencement in year 2? 
The training provider will dictate this, it is anticipated that year 2 will prove most useful because some knowledge, skills and behaviours need to be in place before entering the workplace. Logic dictates this won’t be at the front end of the qualification

Will the laddering up to apprenticeships make the candidates ideal pickings for employers to take on before the candidate completes and achieves the T level for their own funding reasons?
It could happen but the situation is no different to todays scenario. Its not anticipated to be a great problem

More Q&A

Do you see the situation where someone with a T level qualification joins a company then starts a full apprenticeship?
It will not happen because the funding will not be available to fund a full apprenticeship.  A top up apprenticeship meeting the criteria to qualify for the funding to cover a learning deficit is a different matter.

Will all of the employer challenges and other issues not make this pathway less favourable and thus create an even greater skills shortage in industry?  It seems as a learner and employer the apprenticeship pathways looks much more appealing.  With limited apprenticeship offers this could bleed an already skills short workforce.
There are a multitude of employers and requirements and the same goes for candidates, T levels offer the continuation of choices for employers and candidates alike. The benefits of T levels far outweigh any possible disadvantages. 

Is it fair to describe a T level and an Apprenticeship both as a level 3 qualification (equivalent of 3 A levels) on a parallel?
The T level is delivered at level 3.  What would be unfair is to compare the candidate’s ability to perform an industry role due to the variance in practical experience and the difference in the exposure modern day technology.

How many providers are switching to run this next year and how many are staying with their current AO's?
Some training providers will offer the new T-Level from September this year, but not all. City and Guilds or Landex are your first point of contact and then local colleges.

Are there pathways in T Levels as in Apprenticeships for plant construction, Groundcare, agriculture and Arboricultural?
There are no pathways in the T Level, In future Construction and plant will be excluded from the land-based apprenticeship standards and therefore will be excluded from the land-based T Level. I am not aware that Plant and Construction have a T level and it may be that they continue to use the land-based T level to gain the generic knowledge.

When will the official final version of the specifications be sent out, they have changed so many times now its hard to keep up with them.
City & Guilds are currently working with Colleges in supporting them with planning T Level delivery using the outline specifications.  The final version of the specifications are planned to be available in Spring 2023.

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