Endorsed by leading employers and involving an industrial placement, T-levels are a new school-leaver qualification in England that can give you the skills and experience required to enter a range of professions, or prepare you for a degree or apprenticeship
What are T-levels?
Introduced in September 2020 in selected schools and colleges in England as an alternative to A-level study, T-levels are a qualification that enable you to develop vocational knowledge and skills for your chosen career.
Open to those aged between 16 and 19, these two-year technical-based qualifications involve students undertaking a 45-day (minimum) industrial placement as part of the course.
Created in partnership with industry, more than 250 leading firms have helped the government to design the T-level qualification, which is being rolled out in a range of sectors, from health, childcare and education to accounting, business and the digital industries.
Read more about what they are at GOV.UK - Introduction of T-levels.
What are the benefits?
- T-levels provide school leavers with another study choice after their GCSEs and more options afterwards. For instance, after achieving your certificate, you could either go into skilled employment or pursue a higher/degree apprenticeship. They can also help you to get into university.
- As you'll be required to spend more time in the classroom than with an apprenticeship (about 80% compared to 20%), you can continue studying in a familiar environment while getting to experience the workplace through an industrial placement directly relevant to your course.
- You'll gain hands-on experience and are more likely to have the skills employers want when it's time to look for a job. This is different to work experience, which is typically much shorter in length, and more about observation than learning in the role.
- In terms of what it'll cost you, if you start a T-level before you reach the age of 19, you won't have to pay any tuition fees.
- While the industry placement is part of a course and there's no legal obligation to be paid by the employer, the host company can still decide to pay you for doing the work.
What subjects are they offered in?
With T-levels being a new qualification, they're not yet available in all sectors and subject areas, although it's expected that they will eventually cover more than 20 disciplines in total.
You can currently study:
- building services engineering for construction
- design, surveying and planning for construction
- digital business services
- digital production, design and development
- digital support services
- education and childcare
- healthcare science
- onsite construction
From September 2022, T-levels will also be available in:
- design and development for engineering and manufacturing
- engineering, manufacturing, processing and control
- maintenance, installation and repair for engineering and manufacturing
- management and administration.
Finally, from September 2023, you'll also be able to study:
- agriculture, land management and production
- animal care and management
- craft and design
- hairdressing, barbering and beauty therapy
- media, broadcast and production
- legal services.
How do T-levels compare with other qualifications?
On completing a T-level you'll be awarded one of the following grades:
As a nationally-recognised qualification, a distinction* at T-level is equivalent to three A* grades at A-level.
If you had any aspirations to go to university, it's worth considering that a T-level distinction is worth the maximum 168 UCAS Tariff points - according to the model used by universities to assess qualifications in relation to their course entry requirements.
Read more about UCAS Tariff points and calculate what your qualifications are worth. You can also explore applying for university.
How long do placements last?
The work placement can vary in length according to the needs of the employer and the area of specialism, but they must last for at least 315 hours (approximately 45 days) not including lunch breaks. The majority of placements are expected to last for around 50 days and typically take place during the normal working day (9am-5pm).
However, if an employer cannot commit to the full 315 hours, the placement can be shared between two organisations. This would include sharing your learning goals to ensure your objectives are met.
As your industrial placement will account for about 20% of your course, they can be completed either as a block, series of blocks, day release or a combination of these. The T-level itself, your college and the employer will determine this.
What are the entry requirements?
Schools and colleges set their own criteria, so check their website or contact them direct to find out more about their entry requirements for T-level courses.
Find out more
- Consider other post-16 career choices.
- Get the latest information by visiting the official T-levels website.