‘Fatal mismatch’ between T-level requirements and what employers can offer

22 Aug 2018 By Hayley Kirton

CIPD warns most businesses cannot meet 45-day work experience condition

Most UK employers do not think they could offer a work experience placement that meets the requirements dictated by T-levels, a CIPD study published today has found.

The incoming technical alternatives to A-levels, which are due to be rolled out from September 2020, require students to undertake a work experience placement lasting between 45 and 60 days, covering a minimum 315 hours. 

When asked if they could offer a placement to T-levels’ standards, just a quarter (26 per cent) employers said yes. A further fifth (22 per cent) said they could with financial incentive. A quarter (24 per cent) said they could not provide a placement for any length of time. 

“These findings shine a light on the potentially fatal mismatch between the amount of work experience T-level students will need to complete their qualification, and what UK employers currently feel able to offer,” said Lizzie Crowley, skills adviser at the CIPD. 

The CIPD report – Reforming technical education: Employers’ views of T-levels – also discovered that 60 per cent of the more than 2,000 employers questioned were unaware of T-levels, which formed part of the government’s 2016 post-16 skills plan. However, just under half (44 per cent) said they felt the qualifications would make a positive difference to young people’s employability. 

“Government intervention is absolutely key to whether T-levels are a success when they’re introduced in two years’ time,” Crowley added. “It needs to provide employers with more information and guidance about how to include T-level students effectively in their workforce, and also seriously rethink the work experience requirement or jeopardise the success of these key reforms for improving technical education and skills in the UK.”

Mark Dawe, CEO of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), told People Management: “The good news is that most employers aware of T-levels show support for this valuable part of the new qualification saying they are willing to play a greater role in helping students apply their learning in the workplace setting. But to transform this into reality, the government needs to do much more to engage the expertise and experience of apprenticeship training providers.”

The CIPD findings reflected an earlier City & Guilds and AELP survey, published in May. This survey warned just 8 per cent of employers ran work experience placements long enough to meet T-level requirements. 

Apprenticeships and skills minister Anne Milton said: “T-levels are a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create technical education courses on a par with the best in the world, to provide young people will the skills and experience they need to secure a good job or progress into further training.”

Milton added her department had collaborated with over 200 employers to tailor the course content and were “keen to work with any and all organisations – including the CIPD – over the next months and years so that young people and employers understand the great opportunity T-levels will provide”.

The CIPD survey comes at the height of results season, with GCSE results published tomorrow and A-level results published last Thursday. Last week, experts told People Management A-level pupils were still defaulting to university, seeing it at as the “safest option” for job prospects, rather than exploring other avenues. 

However, today’s CIPD report also found 28 per cent of employers would opt for a graduate when recruiting somebody from education for an entry level role, compared with 14 per cent who would hire an apprentice. 

Meanwhile, 54 per cent of those who had recruited somebody from education said university and higher education leavers were either very or fairly well prepared for work.

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