Help fill skills shortages by supporting T-Levels

Help fill skills shortages by supporting T-Levels

Help fill skills shortages by supporting T-Levels

David Barlow, Chair of Building Services for Construction on behalf of the EIB, explains why he and others are calling on construction industry leaders to help fill skills shortages by supporting T-Levels.

It is common knowledge that the construction sector is facing intense skills shortages that threaten the viability of many projects in the sector if they’re not urgently addressed. It is now thought that an additional 200,000 skilled workers would be required to close the gap and ensure the industry is able to keep up with the current rate of growth.

With over 20% of construction workers in their fifties, there is a genuine concern that demand for skilled professionals will soon outweigh supply. That is before you even factor in the shock of Brexit and the pandemic on the labour force, with 51% fewer European construction workers thought to be working in the industry than in 2017. Recent research by City & Guilds found that only 7% of working people would consider a career in the construction industry and that dropped to 4% amongst women and 6% amongst 18-24-year-olds. Clearly there is a lot of work to be done to attract people into the vast range of brilliant jobs that are available in the construction sector. Apprenticeships are one tried and tested route to bring young people and diverse groups into the industry. However, there is another newly available option that employers can support by providing a minimum of 315 hours work placement, and that is T Levels.

What are T-Levels?

T-Levels provide an innovative programme of study which covers a two-year period and contains a substantial industry placement. Unlike any other study programme, T-Levels are developed on a new skills-based programme for 16-19-year-olds, which combines a Technical Qualification (TQ) with an industry placement, meaning that learners are ‘workplace ready’ when they leave college so they can go into work or onto an apprenticeship. They will also earn UCAS points which could allow them to go on to university. The T-Levels deliver up -to-date relevant skills and specific sector knowledge to 25 sector areas such as Onsite Construction and Building Services Engineering. City & Guilds have been awarded the T-Levels contract in this sector and are working closely with the Institute of Technical Education and Apprenticeships to deliver this new gold standard curriculum to young people to support the new workforce of the future. Employers in the sector will play a pivotal role in the future of T-Levels within our industry, as they will provide the critically important work placement.

Why would you want to get involved in offering these placements?

Firstly, you can see these placements as an extended job interview where you get to see what young people are capable of. Secondly, you will be entitled to financial support from government to host the placement. And thirdly, you will be supporting a young person’s future in our industry and supporting the skills ecosystem as a whole.

How can you get involved in offering work placements?

To help progress this agenda we have set up an Employer & Industry (EIB) board with members representing sectors across all occupational specialisms. The role of the EIB is to support the UK government reforms by focusing on bridging the gap that exists between education and employment by preparing individuals for skilled employment, which requires technical knowledge and practical skills valued by industry.

Business taking a leading role

Securing the placement with employers is critical. Evidence shows that other previous projects to reform vocational qualifications have failed, which is why employers must help focus on T-Levels, as it is the employer involvement which will change the playing field for industries and young people. It is essential that we, as responsible employers, get behind this initiative and give young people the support they deserve.

Hiring a T-Level apprentice

Future employers wishing to take on a T-Level apprentice will have the choice of taking on a learner who has completed a number of knowledge outcomes within their two-year T-Level programme as well as the work placement element. Businesses will feel more confident hiring an apprentice knowing that they understand the demands and make-up of this industry.

To find out more about T-Levels and industry placements click here

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