Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills Gillian Keegan MP has visited Derby College Group (DCG), which is the first FE provider in the East Midlands to launch the new T-Level qualifications, to see for herself how the study programmes will develop.
The Minister met the first students enrolled on the Construction, Design, Surveying and Planning T-Level programme at the Hudson Building which is part of the Roundhouse technical and professional skills college in Pride Park. Elsewhere at DCG, young people have joined the Advanced Education and Childcare; Digital Production, Design and Development – all of which are equivalent to three A-Levels.
The two-year programmes involve 80% of time spent in College and 20% on an industrial placement. They have been developed in collaboration with employers so that they meet the skills requirements of industry and better prepare students for the workplace with progression routes either straight into work, through degree apprenticeships or full time university programmes.
After joining in with an ice-breaker activity with the students, Mrs Keegan had a virtual meeting with a group of key employers in the industry who have been instrumental in developing the T-Level programme with DCG through the long-established Employment and Skills Board.
These included representatives from Morrison Design, Bowmer + Kirkland, HS2 Ltd, BAM Construction and GF Tomlinson.
As well as gaining work experience at local employers, new facilities are being developed at DCG to support the T Level programmes including:
- A virtual reality laboratory at Broomfield Hall for Education and Childcare T Level students to replicate workplace environments such as learning health and safety procedures in pre-school nurseries
- New digital laboratories and workspace at the Joseph Wright Centre and Roundhouse
- Enhanced facilities for Professional Construction students at the Roundhouse and nearby Hudson Building
Gillian Keegan Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills said: “It was wonderful to visit the Derby College Group and to meet some of the pioneering students starting our new T Levels and seeing first-hand how excited they are to be leading the way.
“The new qualifications have been created in collaboration with over 250 leading employers so students develop the skills they need to succeed in their future careers. It was great speaking to some of the area’s leading employers, including HS2, about why they are involved to build the talent pipeline and secure the workforce of the future.
“The high-tech facilities and equipment available for the T Level students across the College, were truly impressive. This investment will be crucial in providing the high-quality study programmes which will be recognised as the gold standard in technical education.”
DCG Vice Principal Kate Martin, who is leading on the College’s T Level introduction programme, said: “T Levels provide a high-quality, technical alternative to A levels and apprenticeships and the overall aim is to create a simpler, high-quality system that students, parents and employers will all understand and value.
"We are widely recognised for proven strength in these professional and technical subject areas and for our nationally-acclaimed partnership work with employers so we are well-placed to be among the first to introduce these new qualifications.
“As well as working with employers to secure work experience in their premises which is such an important aspect of these new qualifications, we are updating industry-specific resources here at College to maximise the practical and theoretical aspects of the programme.”
Among the first students on the Professional Construction study programme is Charlie-dru O’Connor (16) from Borrowash who has come to DCG from West Park School.
“I am the third generation of my family to work in the construction industry and I was keen to do the T-Level as it will give me a much better idea of my future career path although at present I am leaning towards training as a Quantity Surveyor.
“I particularly think that the work experience element will give me a head start when looking for a degree apprenticeship and progressing more quickly into a great job.”
Taz Makusha (19) recently moved from Leicester to Derby after doing a mechanical engineering apprenticeship.
He said: “My goal is to be a structural engineer and recognised that the T-Levels are the best of both worlds – gaining top qualifications alongside work experience. I think they are a great idea and I am really looking forward to what the future holds.”