The government has temporarily upped the cash incentives for employers running T Level industry placements to £1,000.
It comes as the Department for Education has become increasingly concerned with convincing businesses to host students for the 315-hour or 45-day placements.
Employers running placements in 2020/21, the first year of the flagship qualifications’ roll-out, were gifted £750 for every student they placed, up to a maximum of ten students.
The new incentives, today’s announcement reads, are “designed to offer support to employers impacted by the pandemic, to ensure they can continue to host placements”.
Firms will be able to claim for a new maximum of 20 students on T Level programmes from 27 May 2021 until July 2022.
Three T Levels were rolled out last September, and a further seven are due to start this autumn.
Apprenticeships and skills minister Gillian Keegan said employers “are already recognising the value of hosting a T Level industry placement,” as it helps “build the skilled workforce they need for the future”.
This “temporary cash boost,” she continued, “will help even more employers to experience the benefits, while also providing young people with invaluable first-hand experience in the workplace”.
Cash incentives are not the only measure the DfE has pulled out to try and persuade employers to host placements.
A new employer guide is also being published today to help businesses understand what is expected of them from an industry placement.
Today’s announcement comes on top of an existing Employer Support Package to help firms deliver placements.
The package includes online guidance, case studies and workshops and is set to continue into 2021/22.
The DfE has said an invitation to tender will be published this summer to extend the package.
An early engagement notice was already published last week, which revealed the package is meant for employers who are “less certain” about industry placements than they are about apprenticeships or work experience.
The notice says employers are particularly unsure about what the placements entail and “how to work with students and providers to structure an appropriate placement”.
The pandemic has heightened the difficulty in finding sufficient placements for students, with the results of a National Foundation for Educational Research survey published in July 2020 reporting employers were “cancelling or not committing to placements”.
The report went on to say providers were “most worried” about placements, as existing partnerships with employers had been “seriously damaged by Covid”.
Some placements have since been delayed. Providers of the early years educator T Level told FE Week last January they had postponed placements to keep students and the workplaces safe.
The DfE also cut the minimum hours for placements for level 3 early educator qualifications, including the T Level, from 750 hours to 415 because of the pandemic.
Last weeks’ notice states that the DfE’s latest programme of support will include measures to raise awareness among employers, including “targeting specific routes that are proving particularly problematic”.
Suppliers of the support will also be expected to provide the DfE with intelligence on employer behaviour and employer patterns.
A dedicated response team, and online webinars which can be accessed at any time, will also be expected.