Progression and Retention Routes for T Level Students

About this resource

This resource is about the different opportunities open to T Level students when they finish their T Level course. It:

  • Describes the three main types of opportunity – skilled employment, apprenticeships, further or higher education.
  • Describes other types of opportunity – internships, supported internships, self-employment.
  • Shows how far T Level students can go after they finish their course.
  • Shows which opportunities are suitable for your students to build on their knowledge and skills through further learning, training and on-the-job experience.

 Who it’s for

  • Employers who want to know more about where students move on to after their industry placement.
  • Managers responsible for recruitment, early careers and apprenticeships.
  • Staff who mentor students during their placements and afterwards as employees.

You can use it to:

  • Make a case for hosting T Level students on industry placements in your organisation.
  • Make plans for placement students to start their careers, with you or in the industry you’re part of.


What are the three main opportunities?

This is any job which requires skills and knowledge learned through work experience and work-related training and/or further and higher education. It includes frontline jobs, trades, and technical and professional jobs.

“Being a teacher can shape lives – it’s amazing”.

Romilly Horner finished her Education and Early Years T Level in 2022, having done her industry placement at City Primary School in Norwich.

“When I was younger, I always wanted to be a teacher because I really like the thought of teaching the basic needs of life to a child,” she says.

“I chose child development for my GCSE and when I was looking at further education options, I knew I wanted to do childcare and with this T Level just focusing on that one subject it was definitely a big reason.”

Romilly reinforced her passion for teaching during the placement and has now secured a full-time role as a teaching assistant at the same school, “to play a role in this and provide young learners with skills they will use for the rest of their lives.”

Hear from Romilly herself

An apprenticeship is a paid job where the employee learns and gains valuable experience through practical training and study and is assessed to an apprenticeship standard. It includes jobs at all levels from entry level to senior roles.

“It feels like a fast track into life”.

Ajrienne Kolapo finished her Digital Production, Design and Development T Level in 2023, having done her industry placements at Royal Trinity Hospice and Lloyds Banking Group.

“Being able to learn and put my knowledge into practice at the same time has always intrigued me’” she says.

“My placement at Royal Trinity Hospice enabled me to showcase my creative side with content creation and my placement at Lloyds Banking Group helped me network and build a solid foundation of the vast range of job roles in the tech industry of a financial services company.”

Ajrienne has now started a Level 4 apprenticeship at Lloyds Banking Group in Bristol as a business analyst.

“It definitely feels like a fast track into life. I’m very happy at the career I’m in at a young age. I feel like I’m running ahead.”


Further education is study after the age of 16 that helps people learn the skills and knowledge needed for employment and life. Higher education is study that leads to qualifications at Level 4 or above, including undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.

Progression overview.png

“The best of both worlds – gaining top qualifications alongside work experience”.

Tazivashe Makusha finished his Construction, Design, Surveying and Planning T Level in 2022, having done his industry placement at engineering consultancy Jackson Purdue Lever in Pride Park, Derby.

“I enjoyed my T Level and the industry placement tremendously,” he says.

“The placement provided substance and practical application to what I was learning in college and provided me with a rough idea of the skills employers look for in potential graduates.

“I recognised that the T Levels are the best of both worlds – gaining top qualifications alongside work experience.”

Taz is delighted to have secured a place at Nottingham Trent University to study Civil Engineering, where he describes himself as a ‘dedicated Civil Engineering student with a passion for transforming conceptual designs into tangible structures’.

“My goal has always been to be a structural engineer, and this has confirmed it. “I am so glad that I have done this, and I am really looking forward to what the future holds.”


Progression overview1.png 

James Wareing got a job with his placement employer after finishing his T Level. He decided to combine the job with studying one day a week for a Higher National Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment.

His course is a Higher National Qualification (HTQ). Like T Levels and Apprenticeships, HTQs use occupational standards designed by employers to make sure that learners gain the skills that employers want.

“I decided that doing the HTQ alongside work would be the best option for me” James says. “I am a visual learner so the practical nature of the course works well for me. I am enjoying learning new skills then applying them.”

“The course allows me to work onsite still and with it only being one day a week means I can still work and save money. Studying whilst working gives me a great life balance.”


What other opportunities are there?

This is a period of work giving students or graduates a chance to gain new skills and experience in a job or profession. Internships are sometimes called work experience or work placements. They may be classified as employment or voluntary work.

An example of this is the case of IBM. IBM’s Futures Scheme offers young people who are not currently studying or in school a year’s paid internship. It is billed as a ‘gap year’ to broaden their horizons and give a head start in their careers. It is not open to people who are studying for an undergraduate degree or have already completed one.

Read the full case study here

This is a structured study programme with an employer and job coach to help young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities get sustainable, paid employment by developing the skills they need for work through learning in the workplace.

“It can guide us for a better future and a better life.” .

National Grid provides supported, immersive work placements through its EmployAbility – Let’s Work Together scheme. Its aim is to significantly improve the likelihood of a young person with learning disabilities getting a paid job.

“At National Grid, we are building a workforce that meets the needs of our business, and also helps to create a fairer and more inclusive society where everyone can reach their full potential,” says National Grid’s Chief Execuitve John Pettigrew.

“Our supported internships have transformed young people’s lives, engaged our workforce and brought real benefits to the company.”

Interns at National Grid have a year-long personalised programme designed to equip them with the skills they need for employment through learning in the workplace. It includes one or more placements as well as study sessions at a partner college.

“Employability has helped us for increasing our confidence and ambition here at National Grid,” says placement student Dylan. “It can guide us for a better future and a better life.”

Two interns are pictured here presenting their placement project to National Grid managers and college staff.

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“We get so many benefits our of running the supported internship,” says Louise Saunders, National Grid’s Employability Programme Lead.

“We bring into our organisation that diversity of thought from these young people who have some amazing talents that help us improve the way we work just by their attention to details, their focus, their different ways of thinking.”


This is when someone runs a business for themselves and takes responsibility for its success or failure. They can be employed as well, e.g. if they work for an employer during the day and run their own business in the evenings. They are also called freelancers.

“The opportunity to actually see how business owners operate”

About 15% of the UK workforce are self-employed or freelance. In some industries, being self-employed or freelance is much more common. For example, 35% of the creative industries workforce is made up of those who are self-employed. Many of them are young people – 87% of graduates who have studied digital courses see freelancing an attractive and lucrative career option.

Employers agree that self-employment is a good opportunity for T Level students. Software company Sage, based in Newcastle, says:

“Learning financial and business management skills are key in our view for any young person as the development of these skills provide a level of confidence in learners that enables them to support the option of self-employment as well as automatically increasing their chances for employment due to practical skills that are of immediate use to an employer.”

Sam McGreevy, a Product Owner in Lloyds Banking Group agrees:

“Some of the T Level students that join us have definitely got aspirations to go and run their own businesses. They have that sort of entrepreneurial mindset.”

T Level students themselves see self-employment as an attractive option too.

Jake England finished his Management and Administration T Level in 2021.  

“I have really enjoyed my course,” he says. “My favourite unit was building my own small business. This gave me the opportunity to actually see how business owners operate and how much work goes into it.”

Alice Waddell finished her Education and Early Years T Level in 2022, having done her industry placement at Nightingale Nurseries in Sawley, Leicestershire.

"Being at this placement has given me the opportunity to see some things that I could take forward with me into my future," she says.

“I hope for my future that I can run my own nursery and run it in my own ways.”




How far can students go?

“I would like to see where it takes me, what I could see myself doing in two to three years’ time”

There’s no limit to the ambitions of young people when they finish their T Levels, as these two case studies show.

Ellie Lewis is an Apprentice Construction Manager at global construction specialists ISG. She joined the company in September 2023 after finishing her T Level in Design, Surveying and Planning for Construction, and is studying for a degree apprenticeship.

“Before going into the T Level I really wanted to go into architecture,” she says. But the experience she had on her industry placement changed all that. “My favourite part in particular was the onsite exposure, which was just great. It gave you the practical side of the industry as well.”

“Currently I’m in my Year 1 specialism which is construction management. In May I’ll start my rotations in different sections of the business just to make sure I’m in the right role, then I’ll go back to my specialism in Year 3.

“After Year 5, I get my honours degree in construction management and get promoted to construction manager, and then hopefully in the far, far future I can progress and become as project manager with ISG.”

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Josh Tice is an Integration and Test apprentice at defence technology company Lockheed Martin. He joined the company in September 2023 after finishing his T Level in Digital Production, Design and Development, and is studying for a digital technology solutions degree at Solent University.

"When I was just 14, I was given the chance to spend time at the RMS business area of Lockheed Martin UK as a work experience student,” he says.

“I got to learn about the company and what it does as well as develop a taste for engineering. After the T Level, for which we needed to complete 360 hours on an industry placement, I asked Lockheed Martin if I could return and pursue my education with them.

“It just so happened that was the time when Lockheed Martin was recruiting for apprentices, so happily they obliged.

“The company has opened so many doors for me including the opportunity to work overseas. I would like to say a massive thank you to the Early Careers Team, and I hope my future has many more opportunities to further my education."

Josh describes himself on his LinkedIn page as ‘an extremely hardworking, organised and motivated BSc who is excelling academically, holding an apprentice role within integration and test with Lockheed Martin, further developing a long-term hobby’.

“It definitely feels like a fast track into life. I’m very happy at the career I’m in at a young age. I feel like I’m running ahead.”

Which progression routes are suitable for your students?

“It’s very much what’s right for them”

“We have a huge number of career pathways that the students could choose to go down,” says Elizabeth Irvine, Senior Digital Cyber Security Engineer in Lloyds Banking Group. “Not only in the digital and tech space but in many other business areas that we have as well.”

“I think the huge benefit of joining an organisation the size of ours is that the opportunities are endless for the long term.”

Sam McGreevy, a Product Owner in Lloyds who helps T Level students with their career choices, agrees. “When T Level students join us,” he says, “there’s obviously the route through to our apprenticeship scheme and that’s the main route we would ask them to consider.”

But he also sees how important it is to show students that there are plenty of other opportunities out there as well.  “It’s not right for all T Level students to join us,” he says. “So we’re not pushing them all to apprenticeships. It’s very much what’s right for them.”

Occupational maps

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education has produced a set of  occupational maps to show:

  • The types of job opportunities open to people with a technical education
  • The T Levels, Apprenticeships and Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs) relevant to these jobs.

There are 15 maps:


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Each map helps to show how T Level graduates can develop their careers by building on their knowledge and skills through further learning, training and on-the-job experience.

To view the maps, go to

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