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Celebrating Exceptional Students for National T Levels Week

Ian Ashton, T Level Course Tutor

This week, we’re marking the first National T Levels Week (Monday 10 – Friday 14 October 2022) – a celebration of the successful new two-year vocational training programme.

The first cohort of Design, Surveying & Planning for Construction T Level students started at Leeds College of Building in September and are already getting stuck into their innovative training.

Last week saw our 15 T Level students practise levelling – a practical application of surveying methods learnt in the classroom. We went outside and used the same equipment found at a real construction site. Later in the year, students may, for example, visit the labs at our South Bank Campus to stress-test different materials. These hands-on sessions are what make T Levels so exciting.

In November, employers will visit the College to showcase the nine-week work placements available to T Level students towards the end of their first year. We will aim to match students with suitable employers, depending on individual interests, so everyone gets the best possible experience.

The T Level programme is roughly equivalent to 3 A Levels. It covers classroom theory, practical learning, and a minimum 315 hours of industry placement with an employer. The training is designed with employers to ensure students gain valuable skills that let them hit the ground running when they enter the workplace or continue to higher level studies at Leeds College of Building or at university.

For me, what’s great about T Levels is the focus on in-demand skills for industry and broad construction know-how gained over the course. This allows students to specialise in year two according to their interests. For example, we already have students who are passionate about pursuing structural engineering or even architecture.

Our lecturers all have backgrounds in diverse specialisms. They each cover bespoke units such as design, management, health & safety risk assessments, maths, engineering and science principles in construction, communication and interpersonal skills, measurements, digital technology, surveying, and sustainability.

T Level students learn the theory, back this up with practical work, then use their knowledge in substantial work placements over the summer. Learning from professionals at College and on site, students gain a solid foundation which is of practical use when employed or in further training. It is also helpful to give a taster of different career paths before making decisions about future aspirations.

By the end of the two years, we aim for T Level students to move straight into higher-level training or the construction and built environment industry as valuable technicians and assistants. Depending on their specialism, students could have the skills to support architects with fundamental Computer Aided Design (CAD), help a site engineer or manager with elementary tasks, be of genuine assistance to a structural engineer, or even do rudimentary levelling-out tasks on site.

We attract a high calibre of student on the T Level programme, working at a challenging level. As a result, they could gain employment through their work placement or move on to other higher-level learning. This is a great hands-on, alternative route to a university or a degree apprenticeship.

To find out more about T Levels starting in 2023, register your interest in attending the Leeds College of Building Open Event on Thursday 20 October, North Street Campus, 5-7pm: https://www.lcb.ac.uk/events/open-event-october/