Three-quarters of UK employers (74%) have said they would not be able to offer T-Level students the minimum required amount of work experience needed to gain the qualification, according to a new report from the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development.

The new T-Level study programme, set to sit alongside apprenticeships and A-Levels, will be introduced in 2020. However, the CIPD’s survey of more than 2,000 employers finds that 60% still have not heard of the new qualifications. The programme will also require students to obtain a minimum work experience placement of 45 days, but only a quarter of employers surveyed (26%) have said this would be feasible.

Over a third of employers (35%) report that they have not provided any form of work experience within the last 12 months. Of those employers that do offer work experience, nearly two-thirds (62%) only offer placements typically lasting less than 15 days and a quarter of employers (24%) offer placements of just 5 days, showing the significant jump needed to help T-Level students reach the minimum required amount of 45 days. One in five employers (22%) said they would be able to offer the required work experience but would need a financial incentive, 10% said they could only offer two- or four-week placements, and a quarter (24%) said they would not be able to offer work experience at all.

Despite this, employers appear broadly supportive of the new qualifications, with almost half (44%) saying that they thought it would make a positive difference to young people’s employability, and two-fifths (41%) saying they would value the breadth of skills and understanding that they would bring to the labour market.

Lizzie Crowley, Skills Adviser at the CIPD, commented: “These findings shine a light on the potentially fatal mismatch between the amount of work experience T-Level students will need to complete their qualification, and what UK employers currently feel able to offer. We, and many employers, welcome the reforms to the skills system, and the positive impact that T-Level students can bring to workforces around the country. However, for the majority of organisations, particularly SMEs, the requirement to provide 45 days of work experience per T-level student is unrealistic and could prove to be a significant problem.”

“Government intervention is absolutely key to whether T Levels are a success when they’re introduced in two years’ time. It needs to provide employers with more information and guidance about how to include T-Level students effectively in their workforce, and also seriously rethink the work experience requirement or jeopardise the success of these key reforms for improving technical education and skills in the UK.”

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