New digital T-level courses help businesses the chance to shape future employers as well as giving students ‘vital experience’, says government ministers at Fareham College forum

TWO government ministers today said that a new qualification is giving employers the chance to ‘design the workforce of the future’.

By Emily Jessica Turner
Thursday, 1st July 2021, 5:31 pm

Local business employers attended a Digital Forum hosted by Fareham College and TechSolent, as they found out more about the three new digital T-levels.

T-levels are new qualifications for students aged 16 to 19, and aim to bring classroom learning and an extended industry placement together on a course designed with businesses and employers.

At the forum, MP for Gosport Caroline Dinenage minister of state for digital and culture, said: 'This is all about robust, quality qualifications, driven by the needs of employers.

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MP Caroline Dinenage. Picture: Emily Turner

'Schools, universities, and colleges need to see themselves as a supply chain for employers and industries.

'We need young people that employers can use and shape into the best asset they can be for the business.

‘T Levels have magical powers for achieving this.

‘Employers get the opportunity to design the workforce of the future.’

From left: MP Caroline Dinenage, Ashley Martin, faculty director for enterprise and digital industries, Rob Nitsch, chief operating officer at the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, and Kate Mason, training design manager at Hampshire Constabulary, which currently has four placement students. Picture: Emily Turner

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Today’s forum aimed to show employers how their businesses can benefit from helping to build local talent for the future, and to encourage them to sign up.

Ms Dinenage, who has decades of experience in business, added: 'In the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport we're trying to build the digital economy - nearly three million people are employed in the digital sector, and these are well paid jobs that fuel our economy and fuel our growth, regional prosperity too.

'It's vital that we all work together for educational and training providers so that young people can take on jobs.’

MP Caroline Dinenage and Ashley Martin on the Digital Forum panel. Picture: Emily Turner

Chichester MP Gillian Keegan, minister for apprenticeships and skills, joined the forum remotely.

Via video link, she said: 'T-levels are a great way of being able to add value to employers at a much earlier stage, and for employers to pick up talent.

'I'm a real fan of both this route and apprenticeships, and I think T-levels will be a great success for giving students vital experiences.'

One of the courses, the T-level in digital production, design and development, has already begun, and two new T-level courses, in digital business services and digital support services, will start in September.

Debbie Eacott, digital academy lead at Fareham College who leads on these courses, said: ‘The T-level is an employer-led course, it is project based but to industry standards and gives students industry experience.'

Students on the first T Level are now nearing the end of their first year.

Gosport student Jack Lee, who has studied web development and coding while on the course, said: ‘It’s a really interesting course, I came into it knowing it would be a good placement.’

Max Jewell, a student from Gosport, plans to springboard from his Fareham College course to study computing at Portsmouth University.

He said: ‘The course has been challenging but there’s been a lot of learning.

‘I’m quite impressed by how far I’ve gone since September. Covid has been a big factor but the online learning provision here has been great.’

Ethan Cooksley, another Fareham College student from Gosport, added: ‘It’s been a really enjoyable experience. At one point we were learning five programming languages at once.

‘I’ve done about 79 hours work experience with a family business called SMD Computers, and I like it a lot.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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