T-Levels provide an alternative option for students that have recently completed their GCSEs, acting as the midway point between A-Levels and an apprenticeship.

Unlike an apprenticeship where you would spend 80% of your time in the workplace or A-Levels where you would spend all your time in a classroom, T-Levels will require 20% of your time to be spent in the workplace, and the rest in a classroom. This offers students the perfect balance between formal education and hands-on experience.

What Education Level Are T-Levels?

T-Levels are the equivalent to 3 A-Levels and take the same 2-year period to complete. The difference to A-Levels is that T-Levels are more vocational-based, meaning that after completing the 2-year course, you will be prepared to jump straight into skilled employment. This is because you will get first-hand experience seeing how your learning impacts your abilities in the workplace.

T-Level Placements

The time spent in the workplace comes as a 45-day industry placement, which will allow you to put your skills into practice and give you a taste of what working will be like in that field. Unlike apprenticeships, it is important to realise that T-Levels are unpaid, though some employers may pay for travel to and from their premises. This is very much at the discretion of the individual employer.  

The government created T-levels with businesses in mind, so you know the skills you are learning are appropriate for today’s market. This means you can be confident about taking on a job role in the future, and it gives you a great chance at finding the right job so you can reach your future potential.

Having that kind of relevant opportunity means you will be equipped with the knowledge and understanding of your chosen subject area before making decisions about your future career path.

T-Level courses include three compulsory components: a technical qualification, an industry placement, and a minimum standard in English and maths (if not already achieved). After completing a T-Level, students will have several options available, including entering skilled employment, apprenticeships, or higher education.

How are T-Levels Graded?

T-Levels are graded at pass, merit, distinction or distinction*, with each grade allocated UCAS points to help students easily access higher education. Students who don’t meet the minimum requirements to pass all components of their T-Level will still receive a statement of achievement. This statement will highlight all the elements they managed to complete.

T-levels are relatively new, so it’s not surprising if you are yet to hear of them. They are one of the many new government ideas that could dramatically shape the way you learn. 

T-Levels Vs Traineeships

Other opportunities exist for you as well such as traineeships, which are shorter-term than T-Levels and last anywhere between 6 weeks and a year, depending on the individual traineeship selected, but which you may find are more suitable for your individual needs. 

Traineeships are more basic than T-Levels and tend to teach fundamental skills that are required in the workplace and, although unlike apprenticeships they are unpaid, they allow the student to gain relevant experience in their area of interest so they can progress their career. They are also relevant experiences to add to your CV and can be mentioned in covering letters.  

Which Subjects do T-Levels Cover?

Initially, T-Levels were limited to three subject areas at a select number of schools and colleges across England. One such subject area that was first available in September 2020 is Design, Surveying, and Planning for Construction. This T-Level helps students get to grips with the core foundations of the construction industry, key principles of design, and the importance of technology and sustainability.

If a T-Level in the construction industry doesn’t feel right for you, you may be more suited to the course in Education and Childcare. This T-Level furnishes students with the chance to study child development, the core principles of the education system, and interesting topics such as safeguarding and special education needs.

The final T-Level subject that became available in September 2020 was Digital Production, Design and Development. This course enables students to get to grips with the essentials of several types of digital roles by learning about data, how business and software interact as well as digital security and legal issues.

How are T-Levels Being Expanded?

Since September 2020 there has been a rapid expansion of the T-Levels that are available and of the institutions that offer them. The additional T-levels that are available as of Summer 2022 are: 

Digital Support Services
Healthcare Science
Onsite Construction

There will be a further expansion in September 2022 with the following subjects being added:

Design and Development for Engineering and Manufacturing
Engineering, Manufacturing, Processing and Control

Maintenance, Installation and Repair for Engineering and Manufacturing
Management and Administration

There will also be a further expansion of T-Levels in September 2023 and this will include:

Agriculture, Land Management and Production
Animal Care and Management
Craft and Design
Hairdressing, Barbering and Beauty Therapy
Media, Broadcast and Production
Legal Services

As you can see, the UK Government is expanding T-Levels dramatically over the next couple of years so there should be a subject area to appeal to more people in the near future. If you are unsure which you want to apply to, take the time to read up on different opportunities available to you and don’t feel rushed to choose something immediately. 

The more research you put in at this stage to figure out what will be expected of you, the more likely you are to enjoy what you are doing and succeed in your T-Level choice. You may even decide that you want to do a traineeship or apprenticeship instead, or even try to find some suitable work experience in your chosen field. The important thing to remember is that there isn’t only one way to succeed and that there are many paths to successful employment. 

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To find T-Levels in your area, go to the Government’s dedicated website.