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.
Alana Benson: DigitalOx Limited is an online reputation management company, and we're also a full-service digital marketing agency, so we do everything about how you're seen on Google, be that as an individual or a company. We offer industry placements because, as a small company, it was an easy way to recruit and expand. We could choose from a pool of talent from the local college and offer young people a genuine opportunity to have genuine work with the thought of a genuine job offer being there at the end of it. We worked with the college initially at interview stage to choose the students that we would take on placement.
Hasina Kamali: The interview process is really important for these young people because some of them have never really been in a real-life work environment, so to get those skills and that experience within an interview setting will actually support them and benefit them in the long run. I'd want an employer to be involved from the very beginning, so to look at the programme of study, to understand the outcome of the placement and the objectives that we are supporting these students for. I would want employers to come into the college, speak to students about who they are, what their business is, what their process is of employment, and then look at recruiting students on to industry placements.
Alana: So how we make a placement meaningful is by tailoring to the individual student's course as well as our individual needs. For example, Josh, our creative media student, is doing some video editing and video production of little short videos about our company.
Joshua Welch: Usually at DigitalOx, we write articles, mainly, and publish those articles through WordPress, but something beneficial would be the video because no one really had any skillsets within video before I joined.
Hasina: We prepare our students for industry placements by discussing professional ethics, behaviours, punctuality. So how I'd want employers to support our industry placement students is being that role model and mentoring them through that process. Also ensuring that they're treating these industry placements as an employee, as any other employee within the business.
Alana: As a long-term investment, the more people that know us as a company, the better we're going to be. So, you know, local people in your local area knowing who you are doesn't do you any harm at all. The opportunity to mould the talent that comes through from being, sort of, 16, 17 years old was too good an opportunity to pass up.
My main advice to other small businesses would be to go out and meet your local college. For the sake of one phone call to find out who the industry placement team leader is, you can get in, get in front of them, describe your business, find out if any courses that they offer are reflective of the work that you do, and then you're suddenly designing industry placement opportunities.
Hasina: It's really important for employers to recognise local talent, and supporting these young people to gain those skills for when they finish further education.
Joshua: In the future, I'm going to University of Lincoln to study media production, and I'm hoping to get a job in some sort of production team, or be an editor or producer for a content creator online.
Alana: For industry placements in the future, we've actually already started. As far as we're concerned, this is our route to growth, and a continued pattern, now, that we'd like to keep and evolve with.
The Creative and Design industries are growing and have huge potential to accommodate industry placements.