EMPLOYERS are crying out for enthusiastic, talented young people to join them.
Yet at 16 to 18 it can be difficult for youngsters to know which career path to follow.
They have often had very little work experience, perhaps just a couple of weeks, and not always in a job area that interests them.
Wouldn’t it be great to hook up employers with keen teenagers?
This is where T Levels really come into their own: they are a great way to study and get hands-on industry experience at the same time.
Everyone is a winner, whether you’re a 16-year-old discovering your dream job or a boss helping to nurture a pool of perfect candidates to fill a role – saving valuable time and resources down the line.
T Levels – broadly equivalent to three A Levels – are a stepping stone to apprenticeships, employment or a degree and are the perfect taster for young people who have a particular passion and want to explore it.
Kate Giles, senior midwife and practice development midwife at Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, jumped at the chance to take on T Level students to do their 315-hour industry placement.
“The hospital was already taking T Level students into the nursing wards,” says Kate.
I’m an employer – what’s in it for me?
Offering a T Level placement gives you early access to the brightest talent and young people entering the market – and the opportunity to develop your workforce of the future.
Benefits for you are that it allows you to grow your workforce in the short term while finding future talent in your area.
It’s a short-term 315-hour industry placement.
Find out more here: find-employer-schemes.education.gov.uk
“Our young person lead sent me an email and said, we have midwifery students – can we look into taking them on to the maternity unit? It was something I felt really passionate about.
“I went into college to meet T Level students. They have chosen to be midwives but were on industry placements like shadowing a receptionist at a GP surgery or working in a nursing home.
“It didn’t feel right that we’re screaming out for new work streams to encourage people into a midwifery career yet there are young people who want to get into it and can’t.
“I needed to bridge that gap.”
Finding a passion is familiar to Kate, who has been with the Trust for 18 years. She was so inspired by the role midwives play, when she had her daughter in 2002, that she left her previous career and retrained.
“I thought, I want that job! I did an access course, volunteered on the maternity unit, then became a support worker and applied to university with those skills. It took me five years to retrain – it had been a powerful experience!”
Seven students from New College were selected to join the hospital and buddied up with existing midwives or maternity support workers.
After a thorough health and safety risk assessment and induction, they were each given a rotation to shadow all aspects of the job, from antenatal care to birth and beyond.
“I found the students were so excited and couldn’t quite believe that they were being given this opportunity,” says Kate.
What are T Levels?
Launched in September 2020, T Levels are a new type of technical qualification.
Offered in schools and colleges, they cover a huge range of subject areas, from agriculture, digital, and engineering and manufacturing, to onsite construction, health, education and early years.
- Two-year courses
- Broadly equivalent to three A Levels
- 80 per cent classroom-based and 20 per cent with an employer
- Employer industry placements last 315 hours (equivalent to 45 days)
They attended the midwife-led birth centre which looks after low-risk pregnancies.
“We asked our birthing families if they could potentially shadow a midwife if the opportunity was right.”
Some students had the privilege of seeing babies being born in the centre, including water births.
“We made the decision to not place T level students in the delivery suites, which is a high-risk setting. But for an elective procedure such as a caesarean, we would ask the family if it was okay for the student to be present.
“For them, putting on a pair of scrubs and being allowed to go and observe was a great experience.”
Not every student will go on to become a midwife, and that’s okay, says Kate.
“Some students are going to do an apprenticeship in nursing or are waiting for the midwifery apprenticeship to become available. In the meantime they’ll look for employment as a maternity support worker. A couple of students have said, ‘I don’t want to do it.’
“It’s important they identify what they want to do. I feel I’ve only got positive experiences from it. It’s been wonderful for the NHS.”
Kate would encourage other employers to take a look at what T Level industry placements could do for them and their workplace.
“Working in the NHS I feel incredibly privileged and absolutely love my job.
“I hope others have a real passion for wanting people to do the career that they’re doing and for workforce planning.”
Are you an employer who would like to know more about hosting T Level students on industry placements? Visit here