Colleges selected for T-level delivery from September 2020 have been showered with financial incentives – some might even call them Department for Education bribes. 

Hundreds of thousands of pounds for equipment, development, piloting, marketing and even a promise they can keep 100 per cent of the course income as long as they recruit at least 60 per cent of the planned students.

But, as our investigation shows this week, the biggest challenge for these ‘lucky’ few is likely to come in 2021, the second year of their courses, when students need to complete a 45 day mandatory T-level industry placement.

Scarborough Sixth Form College recently realised that there simply weren’t enough local employers in the digital sector and rightly walked away from that T-level pathway.

And the reaction they received from the new education secretary for making this tough decision, was praise.

But how many other colleges outside London or near digital employer hubs have been so honest in the face of this likely insurmountable challenge?

The former skills minister, Anne Milton, suggested to the education and skills committee in July 2018 that parents might want to “leave it a year” and see how successful T-levels prove.

Waiting might be impractical if your child is 15 years-old and finishing their GCSEs this year.

Rather than wait, savvy parents should demand (before enrolment) that colleges reveal which employer they have lined up for the industry placement.

And savvy college bosses shouldn’t recruit any young people without a commitment from the employer.

The DfE incentives for the 2020 providers must not be allowed to create conditions for unethical recruitment.

The sort of recruitment where learners are unable to finish their T-level because the closest available industry placement is 100 miles away.