T-levels are a new post-16 qualification which you can choose from alongside A-levels and apprenticeships when you finish your GCSEs.
Compared with the more academic A-level, they focus on providing technical and practical skills for the workplace. However, you will spend about 80% of your time in the classroom learning about the theory behind your chosen field of work.
In this guide, we explain what T-levels are, who they are aimed at, whether they can help you get into university and more.
'T-levels are a new qualification combining industry-focused classroom learning with work placements'
What are T-levels?
The T-level is a new 2-year qualification which is being phased in as an alternative to A-levels over the next few years. T-levels combine classroom learning with “on-the-job” training and, like A-levels, lead to UCAS points which can be taken into account in higher-education applications. Students undertake a single T-level programme instead of selecting 3-4 A-levels.
T-levels include an industry placement lasting 315 hours. As well as providing a route into the workplace or higher education, you could also continue on to a higher apprenticeship.
Check out this video for a quick overview:
What T-levels can I study?
3 courses will be on offer from 2020, a further 7 in September 2021, with the remaining 15 coming out over the following two years.
Design, surveying and planning for construction
Digital production, design and development
Education and childcare
Building services engineering for construction
Digital business services
Digital support and services
Design and development for engineering and manufacturing
Engineering, manufacturing, processing and control
Maintenance, installation and repair for engineering and manufacturing
Management and administration
Animal care and management
Agriculture, land management and production
Craft and design
Cultural heritage and visitor attractions
Hair, beauty and aesthetics
Media, broadcast and production
Are they available all over the country?
Currently, T-levels are only on offer at selected colleges across the UK which you can view here.
However, they should be made more widely available as extra courses are launched.
What is a T-level qualification like and how is it different to an apprenticeship?
On a T-level, you will spend about 315 hours (45 days) in the workplace, or just under a fifth of the academic year. You could undertake your placement in a block or on day release, or a mixture of the two. Although you will normally be placed with one employer, your placement could be shared across more than one employers.
Apprenticeship courses are based on standards which you can view here.
T-levels will be based on the same standards. However, apprentices spend about 80% of their time in the workplace, compared with less than a fifth for a T-level student. A T-level will give you experience in a particular occupation, where you will develop the practical and technical skills relevant to that role. However, unlike apprenticeships, T-levels are more focused on an industry area rather than a specific job.
Your course will cover:
- Core theory, concepts and skills of the industry.
- Specialist skills and knowledge related to a particular job.
Why should I study for a T-level qualification?
Apprenticeships are broadly aimed at students who know what specific career path they would like to pursue.
T-levels, on the other hand, are more broadly focused on the industry as opposed to the job. This means they will prepare you for work within a particular field of work. They are also a stepping stone to further or higher education or, alternatively, greater specialisation with a higher or degree apprenticeship.
Will they help me get into uni?
Yes, you will gain UCAS points with a T-level, so they will help you qualify for a university place.
On a T-level, you will get:
- An overall grade for the qualification (pass, merit, distinction, distinction*).
- A grade from A* to E for the core component.
- A separate grade for each job specialism (pass, merit, distinction).
This table shows the UCAS points available from different T-level grades and how they compare to A-levels:
Although they provide UCAS points, some universities may continue to require A-levels as entry requirement. You should check whether T-levels are accepted before you apply to university. If you know you would like to go to university, you should research this now before selecting T-levels as a post-16 option.
If you know you’d like to learn “on the job” instead of within an academic setting, check out our article on apprenticeships.