Work-based learning: T Levels, traineeships and sector-specific training

Blogs 21 Sep 2022

Looking to bring new skills into your business? Explore a range of work-based learning programmes and training opportunities designed to help employers build a skilled workforce. 

This content was last updated on 5 October 2022.

There are many different work-based learning schemes to help build skills in your team and train individuals with high potential. Initiatives such as T Levels, Traineeships, and the Sector-based Work Academy offer different routes into a range of industries. Work-based learning is all about gaining knowledge and skills through on-the-job experience.

Not sure what’s best for your business?

The Government’s Skills for Life Page can help you to understand and compare all of the training and employment schemes available.

T Levels

Introduced in 2020, T Level qualifications are two-year courses for 16 – 19-year olds in England that include a minimum of 315 hours (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. 

T Level courses cover a range of subject areas such as accounting, catering, finance, engineering and construction, with more due to be introduced from 2023. Courses are focused on developing the skills and technical knowledge needed to work in the industry. 

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. 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. 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. 

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. 

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. 

Read our interview with T Level’s Ambassador Hugh McPhillips to hear more about how T Levels can help both students and your business.  

How is this beneficial for your business?

As T Levels become more popular, more people will be applying to your business with these qualifications. The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE), an employer-led organisation that supports technical education and apprenticeships, explains how T levels can support your business:

"80% of T Level study is spent in the classroom working on the technical qualification, with the curriculum designed by employers and developed by an awarding organisation (AO). 20% is spent on placement, which gives students practical insights into their sector and an opportunity to embed the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom. Potential employees with T Levels will join your business with relevant experience, skills, and hands-on training. English, maths and digital provision is also built into the classroom-based element of the T Level, meaning students will be given a solid foundation of transferable skills."

Where can I find more information? 

The Department for Education’s T Level website has a wide range of resources, templates, case studies and access to webinars and 1-2-1 support to help you plan and host an industry placement. There’s also a postcode tool to help you partner with a local school or college.  

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education also provides further guidance about awarding organisations, course content and consultations.

You can watch a selection of on-demand webinars below to explore sector-specific information about industry placements: 

Higher Technical Qualifications

Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs) are level 4 or 5 qualifications, and are an alternative to university degree study or an apprenticeship. Some examples of HTQs are higher national diplomas, higher national certificates and foundation degrees.

HTQs have been approved by the IfATE as meeting occupational standards for the relevant sector. They have been developed by awarding bodies in collaboration with employers and businesses so that students get the specific training, knowledge and skills required for their chosen career.

HTQs are mostly classroom-based learning, but can involve learning practical skills in workshops or simulated workplaces. They involve high-quality training, leading to highly-skilled potential applicants and employees.

What does this mean for your business?

You can be bringing in employees who have a high level of training and skills immediately relevant to your industry and sector. Having been designed with employers directly, these qualifications are designed in very nature to meet the needs of businesses, meaning applicants with HTQs can come into a workplace as well-rounded employees.


Traineeships are skills-based development programmes that includes an unpaid work placement. It can last between six weeks to a year and is often used as a route into an apprenticeship or employment. Traineeships are for young people aged 16 to 24 - or 25 with an Education, Health and Care (ECH) plan - and offer qualifications up to level 3. 

Find out more about traineeships and how to set one up for your business.  

Sector-based Work Academy Programme 

This free government scheme is designed to help prepare those receiving unemployment benefits to apply for jobs in different sectors. The six week placement can help you to recruit a skilled workforce.  

View the employer’s guide to the Sector-based Work Academy Programme, which includes details about pre-employment training, work experience placements and benefits for your business. 

Skills Bootcamps 

A flexible course for adults aged 19 or over. From digital courses to technical skills, the training lasts for up to 16 weeks and is designed based on local employer demand. You can work with training providers to develop and deliver training to fill skills shortages. 

Small employers contribute 10% of costs, however, there is nothing to pay if you recruit someone who has completed a Skills Bootcamp.  

Find out more about Skills Bootcamps or search for Skills Bootcamps training providers

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