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The T Level Industry Placement: Shaping the Next Generation of Talent

Development of the government’s new T Level Technical Qualification** in Hairdressing, Barbering and Beauty Therapy is now underway with delivery to commence across England in 2023. The contract for this T Level was awarded to NCFE, who will work alongside its specialist partner VTCT, by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (the Institute) in October 2021.

T Levels are high-quality work-focused alternatives to A Levels for students aged 16-18. These new flagship Level 3 technical programmes span two years and will equip students with the skills, knowledge and behaviours they need to progress into skilled employment. There are four key components that make up a T Level with one of those being the industry placement.

T Level Industry placement hair blow dry

What is the industry placement?

The industry placement allows a student the opportunity to gain valuable work experience in a real-world, business setting. These placements are designed to be consistent and offer all students access to a meaningful experience and practical skills that can’t be gained in the classroom. The Institute recognises that ‘one size doesn’t fit all’ with work placements. As such, there are specific guidelines developed to allow for adaptation to ensure placements maintain their specific structure and provide all students with the same quality of experience.

The duration of the work placement is a minimum of 315 hours (with no upper limit of time). This will be during normal industry working hours, even if it is outside the academic timetable. This structure further promotes the real-life work environment for students.

Employers throughout the country are encouraged to get involved with T Levels, enabling them to play a key role in nurturing future talent. Lorraine Nordmann, President of the Association of Hairdressers and Therapists (AHT) shared, “T Levels, developed in collaboration with industry, support aspiration and focus on preparing students for work while developing the technical skills and knowledge that are sought by industry. A robust work experience is central to the qualification, developing essential real workplace experience. On completion, this qualification will enhance the progression options available through gaining employment or further, higher study.”

It’s critical that the placement is in a work environment that is external to a students’ normal learning environment. This allows them to experience what it is like to be in a real-life job from things as simple as travelling to work and being independent from their peers to more challenging ventures like working with colleagues and managing tasks. Students will have the opportunity to learn everything from current trends to new techniques from seasoned professionals.

Ensuring students are prepared for their industry placements

Training providers must ensure students are suitably prepared to enter the workplace before they go on their industry placement. This includes having the required basic technical and employability skills/knowledge while also understanding the importance of adhering to company policies and procedures. It will also include students having a good understanding of the professional standards of behaviour that are required of an industry professional.

What are the benefits of the industry placement to both students and employers?

The T Level is a full-time course and the industry placement is a mandatory part of the programme, providing a unique learning opportunity and perspective. Students already on a T Level recognise the valuable addition this work experience adds to their CV and how it will make a significant difference to their future employment prospects. It helps young people stand out against other applicants in the job market as they will have demonstrated a strong understanding of the skills, knowledge and behaviours needed to be successful in their industry.

For employers, the T Level industry placement is a valuable solution to addressing the entry-level skills shortage. The placement also helps to improve innovation and increase an organisation’s productivity, as students bring a fresh pair of eyes and new ideas. Additionally, placements give an employer the opportunity to shape the next generation of workers entering the industry into the future talent they would want to hire.

How can you get involved?

Even though the industry placements won’t start for a couple of years for the Hair and Beauty sectors, you can help to shape the future talent in the industry right now by helping to develop the content of the qualification and assessment as part of our Industry Panels.

Joan Scott, Chair of HABIA, has been involved with the T Level development panels and shared her experience: “Our team at Habia are delighted to be providing expertise to support the development of the  T Level Technical Qualification in Hairdressing, Barbering and Beauty Therapy. This is because we want to champion the next generation of professionals in our industries. It’s so important to nurture and develop skills and talent, as well as provide a quality progression route into the sector. These qualifications – with our help and support – will do just that. We invite others to share their expertise in support of the T Level development.”

T Levels mark a once-in-a-generation revolution in technical education and it’s great to have the opportunity to feed into the content of the qualification. Through our industry knowledge, we can ensure that students who complete this learning will be equipped with the skills they need, now and in the future. I encourage others to get involved as well.”

We are looking for more experienced professionals to contribute their knowledge and experience (e.g. through reviewing content) as part of the industry panels. We are not looking for people with experience in education – you just need to be an expert in your field. Simply register your interest by completing the form here and VTCT will follow up with you.


**1‘T Level’ is a registered trademark of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education. 
The T Level Technical Qualification is a qualification approved and managed by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education.