What are T Level industry placements?

Blogs 11 Sep 2020

New T Level qualifications are being introduced from September 2020 in England. Find out how industry placements will work for employers, what’s involved and what you can expect.


Industry placements are a key feature of the new T Level qualifications. They aim to develop in-demand skills for businesses, nurture talent and prepare young people for the workplace.

We explain how the new qualification will work for employers interested in offering a placement.

What are T Levels?

T Level qualifications are new two-year courses for 16 – 19-year olds in England that include a  minimum of 315 hour (or approximately 45-day) industry placement with an employer. The goal is to help students progress to skilled employment or higher-level apprenticeships and technical education.

As an alternative to A Levels and apprenticeships, T Level courses will cover a range of subject areas such as accounting, catering, finance, engineering and construction.

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education offers guidance about specific T Levels and when they’re expected to start.

What is the difference between T Levels, apprenticeships and traineeships?

T Levels
  • Focused on developing the skills and technical knowledge needed in different industries.
  • For students aged 16 – 19.
  • Supported with a minimum of 315 hour (or approximately 45-day) industry placement with an employer.
  • Unlike an apprenticeship, only 20 per cent of the course is work-based.
Apprenticeships
  • Focused on work-based training.
  • Aimed at students who know what job they want to pursue.
  • Opportunity to earn and learn at the same time.
  • 80 per cent of a learner’s time is spent on the job, with only 20 per cent dedicated to off the job learning.
  • No upper age limit for an apprentice.

If you think apprentice would suit your business better, you can read our step by step guide to hiring an apprentice in England, or learn more about the funding available.

You can also find more information about apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Traineeships
  • Skills-based development programmes that include a work placement.
  • A traineeship can last between six weeks to a year.
  • Often used as a route into an apprenticeship.
  • Traineeships are for young people aged 16 to 24 - or 25 with an EHC plan - and qualified up to level 3.

What is an industry placement?

As part of the T Level qualification, students will complete an industry placement where they can develop their practical and technical skills.

11 skills areas will be covered, from legal and finance to engineering and manufacturing. Your business doesn’t need to focus just on one area to take part. For example, areas like business and administration or digital and IT can apply to every business.

There is detailed guidance for employers on delivering industry placements, including how you can help students demonstrate their progress towards their learning objectives.

How does it work?

You’ll partner with a local college or training provider to be matched with the right student. They will be able to help you with paperwork and support you with managing the placement. You can find a list of T Level providers here.

Here are some of the things you’ll need to do:

  • Decide where the placement will be in your business and what the role will be.
  • Ensure you have a line manager or someone who can support the student and provide an appraisal.
  • Agree a job description, learning objectives and structure of the placement with your chosen provider.
  • Sign a three-way agreement with the provider and student, including relevant health and safety, public liability and non-disclosure agreements where necessary.

You can find more information and support with this process on the government website.

What will it cost?

There are no training fees associated with a T Levels industry placement. The only costs will be related to the time you or anyone on your team spends managing the student.

Any upfront costs, such as providing equipment, protective gear or DBS checks, may be covered by your provider. You should ask them whether this is possible. The employer support fund has also been extended for the 2020 to 2021 academic year.

As the placement is part of a course, there is no legal requirement to pay students, but you can pay them if you wish.

What is expected of an employer?

Whereas an apprentice would be placed with you for the duration of their course, a T Levels industry placement is flexible, lasting for a minimum of 315 hours (or approximately 45 days). It can be split with another employer to reduce your time costs.

Before a student joins you on a placement, your provider needs to be satisfied that you have a safe working environment and that you’re adequately supporting the student in their learning.

This means you’ll need to:

  • Comply with health and safety laws - the Health and Safety Executive offer guidance regarding young people and work experience.
  • Notify your insurer about the placement for your employers’ liability insurance, because the placement is more than two weeks, and also if the student will be doing different work to your normal business activities.
  • Give students access to the systems and equipment they will need to complete the agreed learning goals.
  • Check student wellbeing with regular reviews and meetings.

The government has published a guide to help employers understand the placement and what is expected.

Your provider is expected to ensure your student is prepared to enter the workplace before joining you on an industry placement. This includes:

  • Having the required technical knowledge and employability skills.
  • Understanding the professional standards needed on their placement.
  • Knowing the importance of company policies and procedures.

Training new talent?

Running your team and taking on new recruits can be time-consuming, especially if you don’t have your own HR department to turn to. With FSB Employment Protection, we’re here to support you every step of the way. 


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FSB Employment Protection is your go-to for HR advice, available 24/7. Speak to employment solicitors for advice, download template documents and have peace of mind with employment tribunal insurance.