T-levels in the public sector

24 June 2021 Jenifer Burden

Gatsby Education’s Director of Programmes, Jenifer Burden, summarises discussion at a live panel event on the introduction of T-level industry placements across public sector employers

T-levels in the public sector

In June the Department for Education held a live panel discussion on the relevance of T-Levels for the public sector. The sector is well placed to support industry placements for a wide range of T Level subjects, and the benefits to employers include: 

  • helping to build a pipeline for future talent – for entry-level positions, apprenticeships, and individuals who may join you after further education and training
  • working with local colleges and schools to connect with the next generation entering your industry, making sure they develop the knowledge, attitude and practical skills to succeed
  • creating opportunities for a diverse range of 16 to 19-year-olds – diversity that helps your organisation understand customers better, creates better performing teams and increases innovation and creativity
  • creating ‘shared value’ – a way of giving back that benefits the young people in your community as well as your business. 

 Offering industry placements employers will also raise young people’s awareness of the rich variety of roles that the public sector offers, which may not be visible to young people as they are making choices about their future careers and the employers they aspire to work with.  Michelle Wyat, NHS Employers, noted the importance of looking across an organisation when planning for placements: 

Think about the whole of the workforce – we have 350 different careers in NHS.
Michelle Wyat, NHS Employers

And Nigel Carruthers, Local Government Association, emphasised the strategic role of T-levels in workforce planning: 

T-levels are in the context of a much long-term strategic thinking – what is our future workforce and how do we engage them via placements and T-level implementation support.
Nigel Carruthers, Local Government Association

Jenifer Burden, Gatsby, described work with employers to map progression from T-levels into different career paths in public sector institutions: 

T-levels are aligned to occupational standards, which you can use to look at the knowledge and behaviours students will have to move into particular career paths or roles.
Jenifer Burden, Gatsby

Gatsby is keen to follow up this work with employers interested in thinking about how T-levels will contribute to their strategic workforce development.  Please get in touch via our contact page.
For employers considering offering an industry placement, Ray Olive, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, encourages an early conversation with local colleges and schools offering T-levels: 

By working in collaboration with education providers you can ensure that the industry placement models work for your business. This may vary depending on pathway, and by engaging early you can ensure that internal stakeholders are on board and it’s of the most benefit to all involved.
Ray Olive, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust

Attendees at the event queried where they could find sources of further information and support. Stephanie Crane, Association of Colleges (AoC), highlighted the range of materials available specifically for employers, including the employer support package, and case study videos, such as these produced by AoC, and employer and student perspectives from providers working with the Gatsby Foundation. 

Sue Lovelock, DfE, highlighted the incentive fund for employers, which offers £1000 for employers who host placements between 27 May 2021 and 31 July 2022. Sue encouraged employers to get in touch with the department for help with beginning to offer placements: 

If you would like to offer an industry placement talk to colleagues at the National Apprenticeship Service or visit our website. This is a great opportunity for you and for the young people looking to embark on their skilled careers.
Sue Lovelock, Department for Education

Thank you to all the participants at this event for making it a wide-ranging, detailed discussion. 

Further information

About T-levels

T-levels are two-year technical study programmes that will become one of three main options – alongside A-levels and apprenticeships – for young people choosing further study at age 16. The content of T-levels is based on employer-determined occupational standards in order to prepare young people preparing for the start of their career journey. A T-level programme comprises a large technical qualification, an extended industry placement spent working with an employer for at least 315 hours (around 45 days), and a minimum standard in maths and English for students who have not already achieved this. For further information about the introduction of T-levels see the Department for Education's overview or visit the T-levels website.

Improving Technical Education

Gatsby is working with further education providers and employer organisations to ensure the successful implementation of technical education reform and T-level programmes. A collection of videos demonstrating good practice, and testimonies from students, providers and employers is currently available online via the link below:


T-levels in the public sector