Robert Halfon MP


Robert Halfon MP

Job Title

Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education

Article Published on

Dec '23

Parliamentary Tech Champion

T Levels are more than just qualifications; they are the catalysts for bridging the skills gap in our economy

I am delighted for the Department for Education to be collaborating with Nash Squared to improve awareness of T Levels, help build the UK’s tech talent pipeline and contribute to addressing the UK's tech sector skills gap.

The recent Nash Squared Digital Leadership Report highlights the challenge of skills shortages in the UK tech sector, with 54% of digital leaders reporting that skill shortages impede their ability to keep pace with change.  T Levels are post-GCSE qualifications for 16–19-year-olds that offer a solution to these skill shortages. They include a 45-day industry placement, making them a gateway to skilled employment opportunities and offering a ladder of opportunity for individuals aspiring to enter the tech industry.

Students studying a Digital T Level can specialise in fields including Digital Infrastructure, Digital Production, Design and Development, Digital Support or Cyber Security, equipping them with targeted and industry-relevant skills.

I have witnessed first-hand the transformative power of T Levels for our businesses and the future tech talent pipeline. T Levels are more than just qualifications; they are the catalysts for bridging the skills gap in our economy, particularly within the tech sector. They combine rigorous classroom learning with extensive on-the-job experience, which is invaluable for both students and businesses.

For students, T Levels offer a direct pathway into employment, equipping them with not only the theoretical knowledge but also the practical skills that are in high demand across industries. Since launching in 2020, thousands of young people have completed T Levels and have gone on to apprenticeships and into jobs with top employers, whilst others have gone on to university.

For businesses, the benefit is twofold: firstly, employers of all sizes gain early access to the brightest minds, brimming with the latest knowledge and eager to apply their skills. Secondly, they can develop these individuals to fit their specific industry needs through placements. T Levels serve as a crucial building block in creating a resilient and future-proof workforce. With tech rapidly advancing, businesses need employees who are not just tech-savvy but also adaptable and equipped with a robust set of technical and soft skills. T Levels provide this by ensuring that students learn in an environment that reflects the realities of the industry today.

Moreover, businesses engaged with T Levels can influence the curriculum, ensuring it meets industry needs. This real-time feedback loop helps keep the tech talent pipeline relevant and responsive to market demands. By supporting T Levels, businesses are investing in their future workforce, fostering a generation of workers who are ready to hit the ground running.

Employers like Version 1, Housing 21 and Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary have seen the benefits T Levels bring and are hosting Digital T Level students on industry placements in a range of roles, with some retaining the T Level talent as apprentices within their business.

This year we established a £12 million fund to assist employers offering placements in the 2023/24 financial year and allocated over £100 million to support the delivery of the next wave of T Levels in 2024. This commitment highlights the crucial role of T Levels in shaping the future of technical education.

Looking ahead, the Advanced British Standard (ABS) will build upon our experiences, and T Levels will be the backbone of our approach for the next decade.  This new qualification will broaden horizons for young people, ensuring they have the best possible start in life through a world-class education system and underscoring the growth of technical education as vital for the UK’s economic prosperity and competitive edge.

In summary, T Levels are central to our commitment to developing a skilled workforce. They are essential for businesses seeking to harness fresh talent and for securing UK’s position as a leader in the global tech industry.  As we move towards ABS, we will continue to champion T Levels as a priority, ensuring that our technical education system remains robust, dynamic, and aligned with current and future business needs.

To find out more about T Levels and industry placements, visit T Levels and industry placement support for employers.

About the author

The Rt Hon Robert Halfon is the Conservative MP for Harlow, and has been an MP continually since 6 May 2010. He currently holds the Government post of Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education.

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