The government’s decision to “cease” a T Level in human resources will cut the industry off from a potentially precious entry route, sector leaders have warned.

An update from the Education and Skills Funding Agency last Friday announced the development on the qualification, due to be rolled out in 2023, had paused because no awarding bodies had come forward to develop it.


T Level ‘would have ticked a lot of boxes’

The British Institute of Recruiters, a professional body for staffing and recruitment, described the news as “disappointing” as they had big hopes it would be a game-changer in the way people in the industry, especially in small employers, are trained.

A spokesperson said the institute is concerned as the “majority working in HR for small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) have no formal qualification as they never set out to pursue a career in HR.

“This T Level, offering a mix of study and work placement, would have been an excellent route into HR that would have benefitted SMEs.

“HR skills are also needed in the voluntary sector, and this T Level would have ticked a lot of boxes.”

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, responsible for delivering T Levels, launched a tender for awarding bodies to develop eight T Levels in wave four of the qualifications’ rollout – including the one in HR – in November 2020.

Their aim was to award contracts in August 2021.

Announcing that the HR T Level had “ceased” last week, the ESFA said: “We were not able to award the contract for the development of this T Level to an awarding organisation during the recent wave four procurement exercise.

“At this stage, we are unable to commit to a date when work on the HR T Level might resume.”


Awarding organisations focused on post-18 education

Two of the big awarding organisations who are delivering other T Levels, Pearson and NCFE, remained tight-lipped about their reasons for snubbing the qualification.

Both have experience in developing HR qualifications for the further education sector.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, which offers qualifications at levels 3, 5 and 7 and end-point assesses human resources and learning and development apprenticeships, said it had not bid for the T Level because “focus is primarily in post-18 education”.

A spokesperson said it “shares the government’s disappointment” that it was “not able to award a contract” but explained most of the sector’s training is focused on adult education rather than T Levels’ 16-to-18 age range.


Dropped qualification brings total number of T Levels to 23

The HR T Level was delayed from its original start date of 2022 last July, and its removal now means the overall number of T Levels has dropped to 23.

The cultural, heritage and visitor attractions T Level was the last to be removed from development, which also happened last July.

A government spokesperson said the cultural T Level had been canned because of “insufficient employer demand” for a new technical qualification in that field.

The government’s new flagship qualification, T Levels began rolling out last September, mixing classroom study with an industry placement that lasts at least 315 hours.

Three qualifications rolled out last September in the first wave: digital, construction, and education and childcare.

In September 2021, a further seven will start being taught in classrooms; while an extra six will roll out in 2022.

A further seven qualifications are to be introduced in 2023.

The procurement of awarding organisations for the 2023 wave began in November, with the winners set to be announced over the summer. 

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