The government has announced which colleges will be the first providers of the new technical level qualifications for construction – T Levels – starting in the academic year 2020-2021.
The new education route will involve 16-19 year old students being placed in compulsory work experience with businesses for 3 months.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds said: “Whilst A levels provide a world class academic qualification, many technical education courses are undervalued by employers and don’t always provide students with the skills they need to secure a good job – that has to change.
“Technology and the world economy are fast-changing, and we need to make sure our young people have the skills they need to get the jobs of tomorrow. This is at the heart of our modern Industrial Strategy.”
The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has warned government officials that they must be realistic about the capabilities of students who have completed courses dubbed as ‘T Levels’ or ‘Tech levels’ by the media.
Commenting on the Government’s response to the T Level consultation, Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “The idea that a student who has completed a T Level in bricklaying is able to call themselves a qualified bricklayer is not credible. The Government must be realistic about how much can be achieved in two years of largely college-based learning.
Although T Levels include a three-month work placement, when the rest of the individual’s knowledge and skills are acquired in the classroom, in construction they will need more time onsite, post-T Level, before they can and should describe themselves as being qualified in that trade. Small and medium-sized construction firms, which do the bulk of training in our industry, would rather view T Levels as a rich pool of talent through which to find apprentices.”
Berry continued: “More positively, the Government has listened to the concerns of the construction industry and stated its intention to make work placements as flexible as possible. In construction, work placements are not popular or common so persuading sufficient numbers of employers to offer these opportunities will be challenging. The Government being open to the three-month placement being achieved through more than one employer is therefore vital. However, to ensure work placements are as attractive as possible, the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) should consider offering financial incentives to employers through CITB Grant.”
Berry concluded: “If implemented properly, T Levels have the potential to provide parity of esteem between vocational and academic education. Although there are challenges regarding the implementation of T Levels, we are committed to working with the Government constructively to overcome those challenges. If the UK is to increase its productivity, we need more young people, and their parents and teachers, to recognise the value of a career in construction. With Brexit just around the corner, this has never been so important.”