T Levels

Students at science fair

Below you'll find out more about what T Level programmes are, how they're different to apprenticeships, information about industry placements, and what you can do to prepare. As more employer relevant information becomes available on T Level programmes this page will be updated. 

What are T Level programmes?

T Levels are two-year, technical programmes designed with employers, to give young people the skills that industries need. From 2020, T Level programmes will give 16 to 18-year olds a technical alternative to A levels. One T Level programme is the equivalent to 3 A levels. They will be taught full time in college, and include an industry placement for a minimum of 45 days. T Level programmes will provide students with:

  • a broad knowledge, skills and behaviours necessary for employment in an occupation or industry related to their field of study.
  • an opportunity to develop specialist technical skills relevant to at least one occupation.

They will also include relevant maths, English and digital skills and provide a progression pathway to skilled employment, higher or degree level apprenticeships and higher level education.

View this short video which gives a summary of what T Levels are.

T Level programme structure

A T Level programme is expected to take students around 1,800 hours over two years to complete, including the industry placement. 
T Level panels have drawn occupational maps for T Level programmes to align with skills, behaviours and core competencies required for industry roles. They will also outline career pathways for progression after completion of T Level programmes. View the occupational map for health and science

You can find out more about the structure of T Level programmes and the stakeholders involved in development on the Department for Education website

When will T Levels start?

Digital, construction and education and childcare T Level programmes will launch in September 2020 and pilots are already taking place for these subjects. Health and Science T level programmes will follow in autumn 2021. 

Industry placements

T Levels must contain an industry placement with an employer. These will be for a minimum of 45 days. Pilots started in September 2017 to identify the best way to roll out placements for employers and learners. The learning from the pilot has determined that industry placements can be deliverable in a number of ways. For example, the placement could be a continuous block of working days,  distributed across the T Level programme or hosted by 2 employers for a better quality experience. For more information read the Department for Education publications, industry placements - frequently asked questions and evaluation of the industry placements pilot. You can also read more on the industry placement policy about the delivery models and support available. 

Following feedback from consultation in November 2017, the Department for Education will publish how to guidance for employers on implementing industry placements, including setting out the responsibilities and legal requirements of employers, as well as clear guidance and standardised templates for employer references. 

The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) will be responsible for providing advice on T Level industry placements to employers. They will also provide a matching service available for employers, where employers can go to find local providers who offer industry placements. To find out more about how you can host industry placements now, please email: tlevel.placement@education.gov.uk

How are T Levels different to apprenticeships?

T Levels will be hosted full time in colleges with students studying a broad occupational area before specialising and having the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills in an industry placement. 

Apprenticeships are employment with training, and apprentices specialise in one occupation as they learn on the job. They will do a smaller amount of off-the-job training, usually around 20 per cent.

In time, T Levels will supersede many of the vocational and technical education qualifications currently offered to 16-18 year olds, and will become one of three main options for young people to consider, along with:

  • apprenticeships for students who wish to learn a specific occupation on the job.
  • A levels for students who wish to continue academic education.

Support for employers

Engagement with employers during the pilots has identified that more tailored guidance, tools and hands-on support is needed to support employers with effectively planning and delivering high qualify placements. Therefore, in addition to the role currently played by the National Apprenticeship Service, the Department for Education will be developing and implementing a package of additional support for employers in the 19/20 academic year to better support with industry placements. This support aims to equip employers with the information and understanding needed to build confidence and effective planning and implementation of industry placements. 

The package will likely include both general and industry-specific guidance and tools, face-to-face regional workshops, presentations and webinars aimed at employers, line managers and employer representative groups and on-demand hands-on support for employers who are identified as requiring additional support.

This will be available in the academic year 19/20. More detail on this will be published on the gov.uk web site later this year. NHS Employers will also support employers with guidance and information on T Level developing in due course. 

How can I get ready for T Level programmes? 

  • Bookmark this page and review regularly for updates
  • Start having conversations in your organisation about what T Levels are
  • Start planning for implementation - how will T Levels fit into your workforce strategy?
  • Speak to your local college about how you can be collaborating now to get ready
  • Contact NAS to host an industry placement.

Further reading 

Share with us

Share any employer views, queries or questions you may have about T Levels with us at workforcesupply@nhsemployers.org

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