T-Levels: Making the new technical qualifications work for woodworking

The Chancellor in his Budget statement on the 8th March 2017 endorsed the Lord Sainsbury’s review of Technical Education and indicated that recommendations related to Technical Qualifications (T-Levels) would be adopted. 

The Chancellor in his statement outlined that spending on those will rise to £500 million a year once they are fully in place. He promised a 50% increase in teaching hours and three month work placements. The amounts allocated are:
                                          2018-19    2019-20    2020-21    2021-22
16-19 technical education    £60m        £115m      £250m       £445m

While BWF support a focus on technical education, there are areas of the 15 'pathways' which give still gives the impression that this route is for those not suited to academic education – some areas cannot be classed as technical education, but vocational. Furthermore, we are a heavily apprenticeship focused industry, but with Construction not listed as a pathway for apprenticeships only, we have to ensure that industry is happy with the content of any T-Level qualification, or look for an exemption for woodworking within the construction pathway.   

1. What is a ‘T-Level’ qualification?
Often described as ‘A’ Level Equivalent these newly proposed technical qualification routes are being developed based on 15 new pathways.

2. What are the 15 pathways?
The 15 technical education routes 

Agriculture, Environmental and Animal Care 
Numbers employed: 454,726 
Typical job roles: Conservationist, park ranger, farmer, horticulturalist, agricultural manager, agricultural technician 

Business and Administrative 
Numbers employed: 2,204,478 
Typical job roles: Human resources officer, office manager, administrative officer, housing officer 

Catering and Hospitality 
Numbers employed: 568,998 
Typical job roles: Chef, butcher, baker, catering manager, events manager 

Childcare and Education 
Numbers employed: 1,060,804 
Typical job roles: Nursery assistant, early years officer, teaching assistant, youth worker 

Numbers employed: 1,625,448 
Typical job roles: Bricklayer/mason, electrician, building/civil engineering technician, carpenter/joiner, construction supervisor 

Creative and Design 
Numbers employed: 529,573 
Typical job roles: Arts producer, graphic designer, audio-visual technician, journalist, product/clothing designer, upholsterer, tailor, furniture maker 

Numbers employed: 351,649 
Typical job roles: IT business analyst/systems designer, programmer, software developer, IT technician, web designer, network administrator 

Engineering and Manufacturing 
Numbers employed: 1,319,645 
Typical job roles: Engineering technician, vehicle mechanic, aircraft fitter, printer, process technician, energy plant operative 

Hair and Beauty 
Numbers employed: 293,004 
Typical job roles: Hairdresser, barber, beauty therapist 

Health and Science
Numbers employed: 915,979 
Typical job roles: Nursing assistant, pharmaceutical technician, sports therapist, laboratory technician, dental nurse, food technician 

Legal, Finance and Accounting 
Numbers employed: 1,325,482 
Typical job roles: Accounting technician, paralegal, financial account manager, payroll manager, finance officer, legal secretary 

Protective Services 
Numbers employed: 398,400 
Typical job roles: Police officer, fire service officer, non-commissioned officer (NCO), maritime operations officer (coastguard) 

Sales, Marketing and Procurement 
Numbers employed: 957,185 
We expect this route will primarily be delivered through apprenticeships. 
Typical job roles: Buyer, procurement officer, sales account manager, market research analyst, estate agent 

Social Care 
Numbers employed: 865,941 
Typical job roles: 
Care worker, residential warden, home carer, probation officer, welfare counsellor 

Transport and Logistics 
Numbers employed: 589,509 
We expect this route will primarily be delivered through apprenticeships Typical job roles: Ship’s officer, railway signalling technician, HGV driver 

It is currently proposal is that eleven of the 15 sectors will deliver via two-year college courses or apprenticeships, the remaining four routes will be available via apprenticeships only. The apprenticeship-only routes are: protective services; sales, marketing and procurement; social care; and transport and logistics.  

3. When will they be implemented?
The first ‘pathfinder’ routes are planned for teaching in September 2019 and the plan is to get the rest should be in place by September 2022.

4. Where will woodworking fit in?
Woodworking will form part of both the “Construction” and “Engineering and Manufacturing” sectors.  We anticipate the new Architectural Joinery and Woodworking Apprentice Standards will be relatively simple to slot in.  We will also have an interest under the “Creative and Design” sector where the furniture making qualifications will be covered.  There is still a bit of fine-tuning to be done.

We are starting to look at how the apprentices and qualifications will work in parallel, but on the surface the changes that we will need to make will be similar to our recent experience of trailblazers.  Employer-led panels will develop new “standards” that will underpin the technical routes – the new standards that we have developed for the above qualifications will be a good starting point and indeed we do not anticipate significant change will be required and standards will underpin both the T-Levels and apprenticeships. 

We will also need to develop occupational maps to show relationships between occupations in each route. Qualifications (T-Levels) will then be developed based on these standards.

Details of how the 3 month sandwiches will be managed and the transition between T-Level Qualifications, Apprenticeships and full employment will be developed over the next period and we will be actively involved through the WIT Forum.  

See the WITForum/BWF Courses you can access and the other parts of our skills, education and training work.