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First cohort of students proves T Levels provide talent pool – FE News

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Prior to her role at Willmott Dixon, she worked on equality, diversity and inclusion issues at the Women in Property Association. Here, Daniel talks about the benefits of T-level business employment and how this new qualification could be key to tackling skills shortages across a range of industries.

The Design, Planning and Surveying for Construction T Level was one of the first courses to be offered when the qualification launched in September 2020. When the Department of Education announced an open competition for businesses to offer T Level students internships, Wilmot Dixon was very keen to take part. Industrial internships provide young people with an important opportunity to learn what it’s like to work in their chosen industry. By gaining real-life experience in a role, T-level students can determine how their skills and strengths match those needed in their chosen field, helping them decide if the sector is right for them. We saw this as a great way to find new talent and make sure our workforce is diverse and inclusive. We also knew that our involvement was an opportunity to help the construction industry validate its workforce by supporting the development of talented young people in the early stages of their careers.

The first cohort of T Level students

The first cohort of 2020 T-level students have just completed their courses and we are delighted to offer a number of students full-time and apprenticeship opportunities at Willmott Dixon. During an internship with Wilmot Dixon, T-level students spend one day a week working with industry professionals on major construction projects including hospitals, schools and hotels, giving them the experience they need to achieve their future goals. Due to the success of our program to date, to double the number of T-level students to join us across the business for placements next year, we propose to amend “we have doubled the number of placements we are offering to students next year” and we look forward to growing this program in the future.

At Willmott Dixon, T-level students gain experience in construction business management by working weekly with designers, surveyors, site managers, putting what they learn at college into practice in real-life situations. Students are fully integrated into the teams in which they work. The experience they gain is invaluable and they are treated like employees. We get to know them, they get to know us and we hope that once they have their qualifications they will come back to work at Willmott Dixon.

Skills shortages are a concern for everyone in the construction industry at the moment. According to a recent report published by Construction Skills Networka further 215,800 construction jobs need to be filled in the UK by 2025. Training talent takes time and it is important to start the process now by giving young people the opportunity to immerse themselves in the industry.

T levels are a way to develop our talent

For us, T Levels is a way to develop our own talent and find the next generation of construction industry leaders. For students, we give them the skills they need while they study to progress in their careers and lives. Once they’ve completed their T-levels, they can apply to university, further training or higher apprenticeships – offering them a variety of pathways into the sector.

Of course as a business we will save on recruitment costs at this level, however this is not our main consideration. In fact, the opposite is true. We see these students really contributing to the work being done across the business and really helping us to fill the skills gaps in our business and the industry as a whole. The students were fantastic – dedicated, enthusiastic and with a genuine interest in the industry. I strongly encourage other businesses to open their doors to T-level students and offer industry internships as this is a mutually beneficial opportunity.

Over the next few years, T Levels will expand to include over 20 courses covering 11 skill areas including construction, accountancy, finance, engineering, agriculture, media, legal services and more. As T Levels are rolled out, employers across England are being encouraged to work with local schools and colleges to tackle skills shortages across a range of sectors. We encourage all businesses to consider joining this professional revolution right now by offering majors for students.

Danielle Haskings, Social Value Manager at leading construction and property employer Wilmot Dixon.

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