When it comes to technical training, big changes are afoot in Further Education.
During the Spring Budget announcement, chancellor Philip Hammond committed to pledge an additional £500 million per year to technical training programmes. This move has been labelled the ‘T-levels’ plan by the media, and it has been hyped as a new alternative to A-levels. Hammond has touted this as a move to ensure that “when young people leave college they have the skills, knowledge and expertise that employers want.”
The ‘T-Levels’ have been designed to give students that exhibit prowess in the technical and trades fields a competitive edge. This builds on an announcement first made back in November of 2015, when the Government stated they planned to overhaul Post-16 skills training. A panel led by Lord Sainsbury conducted a full review, and the result is the new ‘T-Levels’ scheme.
What are the ‘T-Levels?’
The “T-Levels” are the media’s name for the government’s new technical education overhaul. Over the next five years, 15 new educational pathways will be created and made available to students. These pathways will be crafted to correspond to job sectors that require the most substantial amount of technical training in today’s competitive job market.
These new pathways are currently in development; some will be ready for implementation by September of 2019, with the rest rolled out by 2022.
Which areas will the ‘T-Levels’ cover?
Some of the T Levels cover entirely new areas, while others build on existing areas of study. The 15 new pathways will be:
Agriculture, Environmental and Animal Care
Business and Administrative
Catering and Hospitality
Childcare and Education
Creative and Design
Engineering and Manufacturing
Hair and Beauty
Health and Science
Legal, Finance and Accounting
Sales, Marketing and Procurement
Transport and Logistics
Right now it seems that 11 of the above 15 options will be presented as a combination of two-year college courses and apprenticeships, while the other four options (protective services; sales, marketing and procurement; social care; and transport & logistics) like like they will be apprenticeship only. Further details will be made available in the coming months.
Brexit ushers in the need for big changes
With the signing of Article 50 last month, some experts believe that an overhaul of the British technical training protocol is badly needed. As reported in the Telegraph, a source at the Treasury recently commented: “Now that we’re leaving Europe, we really need to up our game on this stuff. We cannot wait. We will soon be competing with every other country after Brexit.”
Positive reactions from the FE Sector
Reactions from the FE sector have been overwhelmingly positive. Spokespeople for a wide array of FE organisations, including the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, the CBI (Confederation of British Industries), the Federation of Awarding Bodies and the Learning and Work Institute have all expressed positive views towards the new budget announcement.
The general sentiment of FE experts and industry leaders is optimistic, and they are pleased that the skills shortages predicted in the post Brexit UK will be addressed. Carolyn Fairbairn, director of the CBI, concurs. “There has never been a more important time to address the UK’s skills shortages. Investment in skills by employers and the government, working together in partnership, are the key to giving young people the opportunities they need to succeed.”
Do you have opinions or ideas about the new ‘T Levels’? Leave a comment in the comment section below.