T Levels: FAQs

T Levels the next level qualification

This September, the RNN Group Colleges made up of Rotherham College, North Notts College and Dearne Valley College will be offering T Levels in Construction, Digital, Education and Health.

T Levels, which were launched in 2020, are a new initiative backed by the Government. So, what are they and how do they differ to a Level 3 courses, BTECS and Apprenticeships which have been part of the RNN Group of colleges offering for a number of years?

T Levels are new advanced technical level 3 qualifications that are equivalent to 3 A Levels for learners aged 16-19 who have finished their GCSEs. Although they take the same time to complete as A levels and Apprenticeships which is around two years, they offer a much longer period of industry placement (usually up to almost 3 months) and are aimed at students who are very clear on the career path they wish to pursue.

The course is a combination of in-class study and work placement. T Level learners spend 80% of the course in the classroom, learning the essential skills that your employees need. The other 20% is a meaningful industry placement helping young people develop the knowledge, attitude and practical skills to thrive in the workplace.

Once you have completed a T Level course, you will be able to progress onto:

  • A skilled occupation
  • Higher or degree level apprenticeships
  • Further study including Higher Technical Qualifications or Higher Education conditions

How do T Levels differ to A Levels and which one is right for me?

The main difference between T Levels and A Levels is that T Levels focus on one subject while A Levels are focussed on multiple. You take both in a school/college setting after the age of 16 once you have completed GCSEs. T Levels are more practical/vocational based, whereas A Levels are more theoretical, but both demand academic rigour and hard work to complete and are accepted by universities and employers.

Because T Levels focus on a specific sector, they are a great option for students who know what industry they wish to enter in the future but are not yet ready to enter the workforce.

A Levels are a good option for students who want to continue subjects at a rigorous academic level, and do not have a specific trade or job in mind, or who want to keep doing a range of subjects. They are great for students that want to focus on theoretical study of subjects they want to pursue at a higher level such as university.

But what about the other courses available and how do they compare?

Level 3 courses are equivalent to an A Level and great for students who have a passion for a subject that they can immerse themselves in. There are various Level 3 studies including an award, diploma, certificate and National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) and equal to a variety of different points levels for UCAS applications. Learners can then opt to do a Foundation degree to support a move to full degree-based learning.

BTECS – like T Levels – are advanced level 3 courses and equivalent to 3 A Levels however, they have a shorter work experience period (2 weeks) and mainly focused on developing key skills during practical sessions in college. On completion of a BTEC, you receive up to 112 points to support a UCAS application to move onto a degree-based course or a skilled occupation.

Apprenticeships have a variety of levels of attainment up to Level 6 and 7 (degree and masters level), with a Level 3 Apprenticeship equal to a T Level, BTEC, Level 3 course and A Level. The difference with apprenticeships is that they are 80% based in the workplace and 20% class based.

Apprenticeships and T Levels, unlike A Levels and some BTECs, are always taken as single subjects. Despite this, they are still worth the equivalent of three A Levels, as all qualifications in further education are. The difference is that an A Level contains less content than T Levels and Apprenticeships do. Therefore, they take the same amount of time to complete.

How will T Levels help me?

T Levels can support employers by offering early access to you – the learner – as part of a talent pipeline for entry-level positions, as well as helping employers with recruitment, improve innovation and increase an organisation’s productivity.

Within each course, students develop an understanding of a broad range of issues relevant to the sector, as well as topics specific to the course and an occupational specialism.

Accelerated Apprenticeships: T Levels can lead to an Accelerated Apprenticeship, which could offer benefits to both the apprentice and the employer. 

Apprentices who have some prior knowledge or skills before starting their apprenticeship can have this recognised as prior learning.

This means the apprentice should be able to complete their programme quicker, as training they are already experienced in, can be removed from their training plan, and doesn’t need to be repeated.

Leading to Higher Level Education: T Levels are an academically rigorous qualification which provides hands-on experience and requires independence in arranging and completing a work placement. This makes them ideal for universities, as well as impressive on CVs when applying for jobs later in life.

What T Levels is the RNN Group of Colleges offering?

There are a number of T Level options that the RNN Group is offering at Rotherham College and North Notts College including Construction, Digital, Education and Childcare and Health.

The T level comprises of 3 key components:

  • An approved technical qualification (TQ)
  • A substantial industry placement with an external employer
  • Employability, enrichment and pastoral (EEP) elements

Studying a T Level means that learners will be able to develop core skills such as communication, team working, reflective practice, research methods and presentation skills. Not only that, English, mathematics and digital content are embedded and contextualised within the qualification content.

I am an employer so what are the benefits of T Levels for me?

Employers have said that they face a skills shortage that could impact the future success of businesses. In response, the government has worked alongside hundreds of employers to design T Level courses that deliver skills that organisations need for the next generation to support with the skills gap.

At the heart of each course, every T Level student completes an industry placement that lasts a minimum of 315 hours (approximately 45 days); some courses have more intensive industry time such as education and childcare where the placement is 21 weeks/750 hours. Industry placements give employers a unique opportunity to help develop new talent in industry, and get young people work-ready. 

Any employer in England can offer an industry placement to a T Level student.

Industry placements must take place in a work environment, so it’s a good idea for employers to offer placements via a T Level school or college that’s close to your organisation’s premises.

Before you offer a placement, you should make sure you’re happy with your responsibilities as an employer.

Employers can offer as many industry placements as they like. There may be certain business costs including time invested in planning, training and supervising, and employers can choose to pay the student if they wish.

Employers can offer a placement to any T Level student if you think it will be a meaningful placement. For example, your organisation does not have to have a digital focus to offer a Digital and IT student an industry placement.

Industry placements give employers a chance to work alongside the next generation of workers entering their industry, making sure they develop the knowledge, attitude and practical skills to succeed.

T Level learners can give you:

  • Fresh ideas and input from the next generation
  • A talent pipeline for the future
  • A way for you to fill skills gaps
  • A chance for staff to develop supervisory and mentoring skills
  • An opportunity to build a more diverse workforce
  • An enhanced reputation in your community

More than 2000 employers are already working with local schools and colleges to offer industry placements.

T level students develop an understanding of a broad range of issues relevant to the sector, as well as topics specific to the course and an occupational specialism.

Show me what people think about T Levels…

… of course so, if you are a student, then you can hear what others say here.

If you are an employer, you can find out more information here.

For parents, there is some handy information on the Government T Level website.

Drop in any Tuesday @ 11am over the summer to find out more about T Levels and all that they offer – available to parents, learners and employers – at Rotherham College or North Notts College or visit our websites for more information:

Rotherham College

North Notts College

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