Employers will be offered cash incentives of up to £750 per student on a T-level industry placement from September, the government announced today as part of a “new package of support”.
The funding, which will be paid to individual providers to then pass on to businesses, is planned to run just for the 2020/21 academic year currently.
Senior leaders in FE have long expressed concern that young people, especially in rural areas, will be unable to pass the T-level owing to a lack of local and lengthy placement opportunities, which need to be at least 315 hours, or approximately 45 days each.
Guidance published by the Department for Education this morning admits that “experience to date has shown that employers are in many instances unwilling to undertake industry placements because of the additional costs of organising them and training their staff to train the learners that would be taking on”.
As a result, providers “are eligible for the additional funding if they have an agreement with the department for the provision of 16 to 19 education and training and are receiving Capacity and Delivery Fund (CDF) in the funding year 2020/21 under that agreement”.
The funding, up to a maximum of £750 per industry placement and a maximum of ten learners per employer, must be used “only to provide such funding as can be reasonably deemed necessary to compensate employers who have cited eligible costs as a barrier to offering industry placements”.
“Eligible costs” can include administration, such as setting up management information systems; training, such as that for line managers in mentoring and working with learners; and operating costs directly relating to the industry placement such as, equipment, materials and supplies.
If providers are “satisfied” that the employer’s financial situation is such that it requires “immediate” support in order to initiate an industry placement scheme and if so requested, providers may provide the employer with an advance payment of up to 50 per cent of the estimated total at the start of the placement but “may not pay over the balance until after completion”.
Skills minister Gillian Keegan said: “With this new package we are supporting businesses and providers so they are able to give students access to the best possible experiences and ensure all placements are high-quality from the start, so we can set up the next generation for success.”
Other elements of the “new package” include “additional delivery models” for employers and providers for the way industry placements can be delivered to “reflect modern practices”, and allowing CDF placements to be delivered over two academic years, with a “reduced delivery target of 25 per cent for the 2020/21 academic year, to reflect the impact of the coronavirus on employers”.
New guidance “setting out the key roles and responsibilities for providers and employers”, and a “ new guide for students to help them prepare for their placement, with hands on support and advice so everyone can get the best experience possible” have also been published.
The government said it will also procure an organisation with the “appropriate expertise to support 2020, 2021 and 2022 providers to help them deliver high-quality placements in line with the delivery guidance”.
Previous flexibilities announced by the government include allowing industry placements to be taken with more than one employer.
The new package follows an industry placement pilot programme, which included grants to employers, which was run in 2019/20. An evaluation report of the pilot can be found here.
The first three T-levels in construction, digital and education and childcare will be taught from September 2020 with more rolled out gradually between 2021 and 2023.
The new post-16 qualifications have been designed to be the technical equivalent and on a par with A-levels.