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. (upbeat music)
Graeme Hurst: We are a local authority in the Sunderland area. In my particular section, I look after highways adoptions, which means we interact with every house builder in the area.
At the minute, the council employs around about 4,000 people. We've been providing industry placements for students in conjunction with Sunderland College.
Judith Quinn: We go about building a relationship with our local employers, because it's very much a core theme of what the college does anyway. So we make sure that there's really close collaboration from an employer side, but also from the curriculum links, and also our employer-facing side as well.
Graeme: We try to give them a broad range of activities to do while they're here, which involves going out on site when they can, getting appreciation of the highway design work we do in here, the flooding and coastal work that we do, and the bridges maintenance that we do.
Sam Billingsley: The organisation helped me out to start my placement and as soon as I walked through the door, they were very welcoming. They sat us down, they helped us through the software that they gave us, which was stuff like CAD, and it gave us the confidence to work well with them as a team.
Joe Blacklock: I've had an induction that sort of taught us the basic health and safety things, things about PPE, or how to stay safe on site, or stay safe even in the office.
Graeme: When the college identifies which students may be compatible with us, we bring them in and we give them an interview to see what fit they're going to be.
Judith: And we have our curriculum link teachers, who would prepare students from a technical skills and knowledge perspective in the classroom, but also from the employability side as well. And then we'd also have the expectations that the employer has of those students and make sure that students are fully aware of that from the start.
Graeme: I think to make the placement meaningful and useful for the student we've got to do work relevant to that placement and also work relevant to the college course that they are doing. Not only does the student benefit from having the industry placement and the experience, the employer also gains benefit by establishing a pool of potential recruitments.
Sam: When I'm working with the full-time staff at City Council, they allow me to shadow them and help them do stuff, such as design a map. I feel like I'm very valued, and I feel like a part of the team when I'm there.
Graeme: Whether they're in the office or out on site, there's somebody with them and mentoring them at all times, either helping them with the task at hand, or showing them the different activities that are site-based. The challenges we've mainly had with the workplace students is giving them proper continuity of work, and trying to fit in what work they're doing here with what they're doing at college.
Sam: Hardest thing I believe, was getting the hang of AutoCAD. Even though doing the placement has developed my skills greatly here, I had no understanding of AutoCAD whatsoever when I first started, but after the placement, I knew the basics and that was helpful as I was moving on in the industry.
Graeme: There wasn't historically a lot of young people coming through that had the necessary skills to be able to contribute to the workforce in general. But with the industry placements, young people now are getting the skills that they need to be able to then come through into the industry and have a running start.
Judith: They also have the opportunity to work with young people maybe from mentoring, coaching role. And so from a leadership perspective if they want their own sort of career development, and also it's that influencing young people's skills of the future, which I think a lot of employers would really want to be involved in.
Anna Hope: And I find that that's really important that they do get that hands on experience so that they're challenged and stretched on that placement.
Joe: The main thing I enjoyed about my placement was learning what I'll be doing while I was working. The main thing was getting out on site and like seeing, seeing things actually being done.
Sam: The thing I've enjoyed most about like my placement is on-site work. An example of one of the activities I enjoy on site is dippin. This is where you check whether the roads have the right level, or something such as levelling, where you look through a tripod to see if the roads are level.
Joe: Definitely recommend industry placements to anyone that wanted to get in the industry 'cause it gives you a taste of exactly what you're going to be doing.
Sam: I was using AutoCAD before I came to City Council, but I never used it in a real life application. All the City Council ideas and many real life applications and it makes us feel more experienced as an up and coming engineer.
Graeme: I would think that the benefits are substantial for an employer to be involved with the industry placement, due to the fact that they are getting young people in who are interested and who really want to do the work.