As of 2022, T-Levels are a relatively new qualification and students struggle to understand how they work, and what they require to pass. One of the most difficult to understand aspects of T-Levels the work placement, which is sometimes confused with an apprenticeship style qualification. However, they are very different and have completely separate benefits and applications. If you are confused about T-Levels, don’t worry, this article will discuss all of the important information you need to know about this topic.
T-Level qualifications are further education courses undertaken by 16–18-year-olds at colleges and sixth forms around the UK. This means that they are part of the 2 years of free further education offered by the government to all students, so you do not have to pay to take them. However, during their mandatory work placement some students may be paid a wage by their employer, although this is unusual.
While this may have given you a basic answer to your questions about T-Level qualifications, for full details, please check out the rest of this article.
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Do you get paid while on a placement for T-Levels?
As discussed above, the work placement is a compulsory part of a T-Level qualification. Therefore, students are not typically paid while undertaking them, as employers often need to provide extra mentoring or help to students, which costs them extra time and money.
Some students may be paid a wage while undertaking their work placement. However, this is a decision made by the business they are working with, so cannot be stated on a general basis. If you have questions about this, please ask your school or college, who will have more information. They are usually paid minimum wage for their age, as they would be in any other form of employment, however this is not required.
Employers are paid to take on students as part of the T-Level programme. This is to offset the costs incurred by extra risk assessments, training, and other key checks that take place to ensure the workplace is safe for students, as well as to make the offer more attractive to employers. Students benefit from this by receiving experiences and training that they would not in a classroom, which is key to future success.
Students undertaking a work placement are not considered to be employees of the place they are working at, but instead have a similar status to those completing work experience, albeit for a longer time period. For more information about payment and T-Levels, check out this governmental guide.
Do T-Levels require a work placement?
T-Levels are further education courses undertaken at college in the UK. Students typically undertake one T-Level at a time, which specialises in a particular industry, giving students the skills they will need for their future careers. For more information on T-Level courses, check out this Think Student guide.
T-Levels involve 3 elements: Core Component, Occupational Specialism, and a work placement. The core component includes key Maths, English and Science skills that may be useful in the industry focussed on. It also teaches some general information about the area of work you may be entering.
The Occupational Specialism is chosen by students individually, and may include, for example, in a childcare course, a focus on early years education. This teaches further key skills about the area you focus on for your career, based in an academic environment such as a college.
The work placement is typically what is seen as setting T-Levels apart from other qualifications. It involves going to an approved business workplace and undertaking 40 days of work related to your industry.
Work placements are graded by the employer, and form part of your overall T-Level grade. This means they are key to the qualification and cannot be avoided if you wish to pass. Trying hard in the work placement is important not only for your grade, but also to ensure you get the most experience and help out of your time there. For more information about what is involved in a T-Level, look at this governmental guide.
How does a T-Level work placement work?
T-Level work placements take many forms and are flexible in how they are delivered. However, they all contain a few key elements. They all take place in a different environment to the school or college students typically attend to make sure the experience is more like a real job. Placements must be relevant to the student’s chosen occupational specialism. They also need to last a minimum of over 315 hours.
The only exception to this is the Childcare and Early Years Education specialism, which needs to last over 750 hours due to the rigorous nature of the work undertaken.
Taking place outside school means students gain experience of not only working in their industry, but also travelling to and from a workplace, independence from their peers, and working with new people. This is key to success later in life and is the reason why work placements cannot be undertaken online, except in circumstances such as young offenders institutes and for SEND pupils in some cases.
In some cases, students may split their work placement between two workplaces. This is usually the case when one workplace would not provide the breadth and depth of learning that students require to gain the best experience from their placement. Students who are unsure about their workplace requirements should contact their course provider. They will have up to date information about their, tailored to their course.
For more information about how placements work during a T-Level, check out this governmental guide.
What is involved in a T-Level work placement?
The timing of work placements is required to be in line with “industry standard”. This usually means full days of work, which can fall outside normal school hours if necessary. There is no one fixed model of delivery for work placements. Students may be given day leave from their college to go and work. Otherwise, they may be given a block of time in which to complete them. These decisions are usually made based on the industry and business requirements, so vary for all courses.
If students undertake part-time work already which is related to their industry specialism, they may be able to count this as part of their work placement. If you believe this may be something you do, please contact your school or college for more information. For more information about T-Levels and their work placements, check out this governmental guide.
Do you have to pay to do T-Levels?
T-Levels are included in the 2 years of free further education provided by the government for 16–19-year-olds. For this reason, if you have not already taken another post-16 educational pathway (not including university), then you do not need to pay to take T-Level qualifications.
However, if you have already taken qualifications or are older than 18 when starting the course, you may be required to pay to take a T-Level. This is done on a case-by-case basis and courses may have bursaries and scholarships available especially for older students to gain these sorts of qualification. If this is something you are interested in, contact your local council’s adult education section, who should be able to give you more information on how you can start this process. For more information about government funding of T-Levels, check out this governmental guide.