T Levels include high-quality industry placement
Tori Kirwan-Taylor, South Devon College
- Credit: South Devon College
T Levels are an exciting new technical programme for 16 to 19 year olds, that are the equivalent to three A-levels.
A unique part of a T Level is the completion of a high-quality industry placement – of at least 315 hours, or approximately 45 days – where students will build the knowledge and skills and develop the confidence they need in a workplace environment.
Nick Cleasby from Constructing Futures Devon Ltd is one of South Devon College’s employer partners and taking part in providing placement opportunities for the new T Level in On-Site Construction.
We visited Nick on-site, to find out how his placements are going.
Nick said: “The placements have been really good. We've had a variety of different learners from lots of different trades.
"We’ve had electricians, plumbers, carpenters, plasterers, painters and decorators, bricklayers with different levels of experience all coming to work and having their first taste of a real building site.
“The learners come at a variety of different levels. For some, it was their first time on any building site, so they were completely unaware of what to expect, how to conduct themselves or what to do. But other learners have been on-site before and are there to gain further experience.
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“Some learners will turn up with some tools, some learners won't, but we're lucky enough to have some funding to be able to have a toolkit on site for all the different trades so that we're prepared with the equipment they might need.
"From my point of view, as long as they turn up and they’re keen and willing to do whatever tasks needed for their trade then I can give them that opportunity.
“As far as the range of work we can offer to the learners, it depends on their level of experience.
"We've had electricians or plumbers turning up that have never lifted floorboards up for instance.
"So, it gives them additional and transferable skills across different trade areas as well to adapt to different jobs which can be hard to simulate off-site.
"It’s all about getting that real hands-on experience of what their trade is like in the real world.
"As an employer, you play an important part as you've got to monitor what their capabilities are and support them if they need it.
“As far as maths and English are concerned, it's something that's happening all the time on-site in any construction trade.
"We always ask the learners to try and calculate quantities of materials, we’ll always have to make sure that they’re making the correct measurements making sure they use the correct scales and form of measurement.
"Because it's the first time usually meeting me on-site for learners, their communication skills to be able to turn up on-site and explain what they are doing and be able to follow my instructions, all those sorts of things are key parts of what we are trying to achieve as well.
“My advice to anybody else trying to take on a learner placement, it's a valuable part to play in developing the next generation of tradespeople. It does take some time and effort, but you get another pair of hands that are ready to learn to help with some of the challenging jobs.
"It’s an important investment into the future of the industry and having these keen learners on board are very much a help rather than a hindrance.”
Employers can claim £1,000 cash boost for every T Level student they host on a high-quality industry placement between May 27, 2021, and July, 2022. If you think hosting a T Level could benefit your business and you would like to be involved, visit www.southdevon.ac.uk/employers to get started.