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How employers can contribute to T Level delivery

Introduction

T Levels are high-quality technical education and training programmes which meet employers’ needs. Employers are closely involved in designing T Levels and they play an essential part in T Level delivery as well. 

There are various ways in which employers can contribute to T Level delivery. For example, they may offer industry placements and work tasters, develop employer-set briefs for assignments and projects, provide access to specialist equipment and facilities, or give talks to students about the skills needed in their industry. 

This resource will help you engage with local employers. It focuses on developing ways for local employers to make a meaningful contribution to your T Level programmes.  

Who is it for? 

Employer engagement leads, T Level leads. 

How to use this resource

The resource consists of four checklists: 

  1. How employers can contribute to industry placements - lists ways in which employers can help to make placements a meaningful experience for students
  2.  How employers can contribute to T Level delivery – outlines other ways in which employers can add to the breadth, depth and quality of your T Level programmes 
  3. Topics for discussion with individual employers and employer networks – lists the topics which you could cover during the early stages of engaging with employers about their contribution to T Levels 
  4. Dealing with objections – identifies some of the potential barriers which may prevent employers from contributing to T Level delivery and suggests how to overcome them.  

You may find the checklists useful when: 

  • Planning your overall approach to engaging employers with T Levels 
  • Preparing for events with employers including events run by your organisation or others, e.g. Chambers of Commerce, sector bodies, apprenticeship hubs  
  • Working with individual employers to agree how they can contribute. 

Other resources are also relevant to this topic: 

  • The planning cycle for industry placements contains general guidance about the employer engagement process, roles and responsibilities of staff involved with employers, and how to carry out a business needs analysis with employers 
  • Approaches to marketing T Levels suggests key marketing messages for employers 
  • Supporting employers to select students for industry placements gives comprehensive guidance on how to design and carry out the selection process with employers/assessment groups. 

How employers can contribute to industry placements

What employers can do 

  1. Offer industry placements to students, either on their own or in combination with one other employer. 

  2. Offer work tasters to help students decide whether to apply for an industry placement with the employer. 

  3. Plan industry placements with you to provide meaningful work tasks and projects for students which develop their knowledge, skills and behaviours through practical application.

  4. Select students for industry placements to give the best chance that both the student and the employer will benefit from the placement. 

  5. Train and prepare staff to support and mentor students effectively throughout their time on industry placements.

  6. Welcome students into the workplace and help them to become part of the team, giving them opportunities to develop valuable employability skills including teamwork. 

  7. Give frequent, regular feedback to students on their performance at work, including the use of technical knowledge and skills and the application of appropriate behaviours. 

  8. Take part with you in regular reviews of students’ progress and a final review at the end of the placement. 

  9. Write students a refence highlighting key aspects of their performance and achievements on the placement. 

  10. Consider whether to offer students a job when they complete their T Level qualification. 

How employers can contribute to T Level delivery 

What employers can do

  1. Help you to plan the curriculum by providing insights into industry standards and performance expectations.

  2. Give talks about their industry and their own business to help students learn about the career paths and occupational specialisms available in the sector and locality.

  3. Provide employer-set briefs for assignments and projects which require students to select, integrate and apply relevant knowledge and skills in an authentic context.

  4. Help you to assess students’ progress by giving feedback on their work on assignments and projects.

  5. Provide access to specialist, state-of-the-art equipment and facilities to give students experience of the resources, tools and techniques used in the industry.

  6. Provide staff to help teach students highly specialist knowledge and skills.

  7. Take part in events to celebrate students’ achievements and raise awareness of the breadth and depth of T Levels among potential students and their parents, carers or guardians.

Topics for discussion with individual employers and networks

Topics

  1. Background to T Levels, overview of their purpose and place in education and training and the value of employers being involved in delivery.

  2. What T Levels include (content), how long they last and how they are structured.

  3. Which T Levels you offer now and your plans to offer more T Levels in future.

  4. The benefits of T Levels and industry placements to employers, students and the sector.

  5. Different industry placements models, emphasising the flexibility to meet employers’ needs.

  6. Demand for skills and business development opportunities locally and regionally, and the contribution T Levels can make to economic success.

  7. Objectives, needs, challenges and opportunities emerging in their business.

  8. Skills shortages and skills gaps[1] and how T Levels can help to solve them.

  9. How T Levels fit in with apprenticeships, traineeships, internships, work experience, Kickstart and other programmes.

  10. How getting involved in T Levels can help employers to recruit young people with the skills and attributes they need.

  11. What barriers might stop employers from getting involved in T Levels, and how to overcome them.

[1] Skills shortages are caused by a shortage in the labour market of people with the skills or experience employers are looking for. Skills gaps are gaps in the skills or experience within an organisation. Skills shortages can contribute to skills gaps by making it difficult for employers to recruit people with the skills they need. T Levels are designed to help solve skills shortages/gaps.

Dealing with objections from employers

Objections

Response

1. We don’t have enough experienced staff to support students on industry placements.

Students do need supervising while on an industry placement, but this can be an opportunity for your staff to develop supervisory skills and experience, which makes them more valuable to you as employees.

Mentoring is another opportunity for your staff to develop skills and expertise without taking on supervisory responsibilities. Students on industry placements benefit from someone else apart from their supervisor giving them support from time to time. Mentoring is a good way for staff who may want to progress to a supervisory role gaining valuable experience.

If you have apprentices in the organisation, they could also help to support industry placement students given that they are likely to have shared experiences.

2. We don’t have time to get involved at the moment.

If it’s something you might be able to do later on, it could be advantageous to start thinking about it now so you’re ahead of the game when the time is right.

We could help you think about the sort of roles or projects in the business that might be suitable for an industry placement; for example, it would be great if we could talk to one or two of your staff who are interested in giving young people a chance, so they can start to work out what it would mean for you to offer them the opportunity of a placement with you.

Plus, there are other ways for you to get involved as well, which might be more feasible just now – would anyone in the organisation be interested in giving a talk to some of our students about what it’s like to work in the industry?

By the way, we’re used to working with businesses around peaks and troughs in work and are good at being flexible about timing. For example, if it helps to have a student in at busy times, we can organise that, but equally they can be available at less busy time if that’s better for you.

3. We can’t take a student on during the pandemic.

 

 

 

                        

It’s quite true that things like social distancing and safe working practices may need to be considered for some time to come. However, it shouldn’t be more of a problem for industry placement students than for any other employee.

You’re obviously doing all the right things for staff to return to the workplace post-Covid and they are equally applicable to industry placement students as to everyone else. If students are required to work in close proximity with others, you can place them in fixed teams, paired with their supervisor, or put them on the same shift pattern.

Whatever is needed, we’ll work with you to make sure that students are properly safe and protected from risk, as are all your other employees.

4. We don’t have enough work for students to do.

We’ve been speaking to quite a few organisations who’ve had to put activities and projects on hold during the pandemic. That might be something students can do for you. They could be the ideal opportunity to get some of those projects underway again.

It’s true that students might have limited or no experience of the workplace, but they will have been taught about some of the skills, technologies and working practices in your sector, which means they can turn their hand to any work that’s relevant and appropriate for them. I think you’ll find they make a useful contribution from the word go.

5. We’ve got too many staff working from home at the moment.

If staff aren’t in the office or on site all the time, could they perhaps share day to day supervision of the student?

This can work well if you’ve got a ‘bubble’ approach to organising shift patterns where the same staff work together each shift, as far as is practicable, to reduce the number of people interacting. Students can fit in to whatever arrangements you have for staff, and we’ll work with you to make it happen with the least possible disruption.

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