08 February 2024
To mark T Level Thursday as part of National Apprenticeship Week, the Federation of Environmental Trade Associations (FETA) spoke to three students about their experience.
T Levels are an alternative to A Levels, apprenticeships and other 16-19 courses. Equivalent in size to 3 A Levels, a T Level focuses on vocational skills and can help students into skilled employment, higher study or apprenticeships. Each T Level includes an in-depth industry placement that lasts at least 45 days. Students get valuable experience in the workplace while employers get early sight of the new talent in their industry.
Ethan-John Yates, Ariel Lusala and George Knight are all part of the team at Southampton-based building energy management system (BEMS) controls specialist Intandem Systems, a FETA member, while pursuing T Level courses. George and Ethan are enrolled on a Building Services Engineering: Electrotechnical course, while Ariel is taking a course in Engineering Design and Development: Manufacturing.
Ariel first heard about T Levels during a school assembly, where they were described as a cross between A Levels and practical learning. He was thinking of studying A Levels but when his college told him they also offered T Levels he recalled that assembly. He said: “Since I liked doing a bit of both I thought, ‘why not?’. I am now using the skills I learn in college in real life as well.”
Explaining his reasoning behind choosing a T Level course after completing his GCSEs, George said: “I wasn’t originally planning on going into a trade but then I realised I was quite keen to do something challenging, a bit more hands-on and a bit more practical. I saw a brief overview of my course and it covered everything I’m interested in. So I gave it a go, I stuck with it and am now really enjoying it.”
Ethan described how important his industry placement with InTandem Systems has been in helping him progress from full-time learning to the world of work. He said: “It helps us understand how a company actually functions, because we’re in the middle of it. Instead of being on the sidelines watching we’re treated like a member of staff so we can get a feel of what it’s going to be like in the future.”
All three students are now considered important members of the team at InTandem Systems. Hashika Pieris, Technical Support, explained: “When we’re very busy there are a lot of last-minute tasks that we need to do, so when the students are in it is really handy as we can give them work quite easily and it helps us get the jobs done. On quieter days they can help out anyone individually – which is important just to make the company tick and it adds to their overall learning as well.”
FETA Chief Executive Chris Yates said: “The success of the students at InTandem Systems is a great example of how employers can benefit from offering T Level placements and how the students themselves can gain valuable industry knowledge and apply the skills they learn at college to real world scenarios. It is fantastic to hear these stories and I hope they will inspire others to consider following a similar path.”