Voiceover: T Levels are one of the biggest reforms to England's technical education system in a generation. Launched in September 2020 each T Level includes a substantial industry placement benefiting both the young person and the employer. Employers across England are gaining early access to new talent entering their sector. Whilst young people are gaining the skills, knowledge and attitude to excel in their careers.
Catherine Ashcroft: The Eric Wright Group is a construction management company. We have about 650 employees within the company right across the group. This year we've had three students, one in Eric Wright Construction, one in Eric Wright Facilities Management, and one in Eric Wright Civil Engineering. Since 2005, the Eric Wright Learning Foundation has supported students. In 2015 we became affiliated with Preston's College. We realised that there's an opportunity for young people to learn about the industry, and being part of an industry placement gives them an ideal opportunity to do that.
Gregg Brett: It allows us to try them and to see if they are a natural fit for our organisation.
Catherine: We work really closely with Preston's College to make sure that the students are suitable for the placement that were provided for them. Once the job description has been drawn up, the college will then put that out to the students. And so, most of the application process happens at college.
Steven Jones: When we start working with an employer, we need to make sure that what a student's learning on the course is matching what the employer's expecting to get out of it. We have to remember that this might be the first time a young person that we're working with has ever been sat with an employer in a real world working environment.
Catherine: So working with the learning provider has been key to the success of the programme. So to ensure that the students get the best possible opportunity whilst they're with us is, we integrate them as part of the team.
Edward Sailsbury: At the start of placement I got put into the team straight away and I felt like I've grown into it a lot. At the beginning I went to head office for an interview and an induction. I went around the whole office and met everyone, and they seemed very real nice. Later on that day I travelled up to Luneside, Lancaster, and that's where I'm based at right now.
Catherine: The team will then mentor them throughout the duration of the project.
Edward: When you're working with a student you've got to have the basic training. My health and safety training was actually at college, where I did my CSCS card. And now I can use that CSCS card to go on building sites.
Gregg: It's important that the student is completely comfortable and is completely supervised as well. Let's not forget, there are on sites sometimes it can be quite a high-risk environment.
Karen Wei: The training I've had is developing my CAD use, which I've learned previously in college, just the basic knowledge and developed it in the professional industry.
Gregg: The classroom can only take a student so far. And for us as an organisation, we want to make sure that everything that we do can be shown to that student. When they do come to site, they're doing a very low-risk activity, which has been really beneficial.
Catherine: By having students involved in the company, it means that we can prepare them for the future. So we can pass on the skills of our experienced staff to the younger generation to make sure that the skills gap is addressed and there's a massive skills shortage with our industry. We're helping our industry improve in the future.
Steven: The students seem to be really benefiting from the process. So I think if between Eric Wright and Preston's College and our tutors we can work together, I do believe that the industry placements have become a key part of education and a key part of what we teach as a technical education college.
Catherine: We are looking to support industry placements on the sites on which we work, so they'll be based all over the North West, not just in Lancashire.
Edward: This placement has realised that I want to continue my journey into site management. The reason that I want to is because when I first started college, I wanted to be an architect. I didn't realise that there was other opportunities. So this placement has helped me choose the right opportunity for me, for my future.
Karen: So in the future I want to go to uni with a year in industry, and it's kind of developed from my place at Eric Wright.
Catherine: Having industry placements at Eric Wright has been absolutely amazing. It's an invaluable life experience for the students who may not have experienced work before. And as a company, it's been an absolute pleasure to be able to offer those opportunities to young people to set them up for the future and support our industry as we move forward.
Gregg: It's a really positive experience, and I heartily recommend it.