Alfie is currently in his second year of studying a level three extended diploma in business (Year 13 equivalent). He studies businss at New College Stamford and is one of the few pupils trialing T-Levels. Read his story to find out more about T-Levels and apprenticeship placements.
"I study business at New College Stamford alongside doing my T-Level placement at a digital marketing agency ‘Quibble Content’. In its simplest term, T-Levels are essentially an apprenticeship where you study your chosen subject three days a week at college alongside the required 315 hours of work placement per year, whenever fits for you and your employer.
What are T-Levels?
Let’s talk about the new T-Level scheme in general first. T-Levels are a new scheme which will be introduced by the government in September 2020. T-Levels are designed to set students like me up for the future. It’s a way of getting experience in an industry of interest to you, providing a relevant placement where you can action the skills and knowledge you have learnt in the classroom. An example for me would be the marketing and digital topics I have learnt whilst studying business, as these modules are relevant to my digital marketing placement.
To be able to get experience in what you are study is a big must according to UCAS, no matter what you are studying, including level 2/3, degrees and internships. It is important to show an employer that you have some sort of experience to prove you know the fundamentals of that certain job role. You won’t know everything but at least you should be able to understand the basics of the job role you are applying for.
The T-Level Journey
- First you need to study a BTEC, a vocational course at college, once you have done this, speak to your college about the scheme to make sure they are doing T-Levels.
- If your college is providing the T-Level experience they should have a careers department or a T-Level coordinator who you should be able to have a chat with. They will ask you questions such as:
-What do you want to study?
-What kind of placement would you like?
-How far are you willing to travel?
-What industry are you looking to work in?*
- It is better if you go to your college with a list of employers you would like to work for to give your college an idea of the job you want. You may not get a placement from these employers but it will help your institution to find one which is relevant to you as they have a guideline to follow.
- You’ll then need to create a CV, cover letter and prepare for an interview - like any other job!
I didn’t have any experience in the industry I wanted to have a placement in but due to the scheme being similar to an apprenticeship scheme, it helps employers understand and offer job opportunities to students who are willing to learn.
So, you need to show you’re keen to learn! With help from your T-Level coordinator to help explain to your potential employer what T-Levels are about, they should be open to the new scheme. As T-Level coordinator at New College Stamford, Julie Girling, said, ’On the whole businesses are extremely supportive and see the benefits’.
A day in the life of a T-Level student
Before we start, this is not a guide to what your life will be like as all colleges run courses on different days and at different times. This is just how I go about balancing my studies and my placement.
Monday - A standard 9 o’clock Monday morning start at college with a chance of still feeling rough from the weekend. All jokes aside I am at college from 9-4 on Mondays and when I get home I do my assignment work in order to keep up with my studies.
Tuesday- Now Monday is out of the way we can start enjoying our week. I start college at 9 am but I have a short day on Tuesdays and finish at lunch. Tuesdays for me are a blessing in disguise as I am able to use the whole of Tuesday afternoon to crack on with assignments and college work. I use this time wisely as I don’t like working at weekends, so I try and get as much done as possible.
Wednesday - My final day of college for the week. I start college at 9 for the last time for the week and finish lessons around 2:30pm. I then stay in college or go home to carry on with studies or assignments until around 5:30 - 6:30 - depending on how much I have to do.
Thursday - This is the first day of the week I am working at my T-Level placement. From 9-5:30 I am at work, learning new things and putting my skills that I have learnt in the classroom into place at Quibble Content, my employer. When I get home I finish up on any college work that needs doing as this is the last time I work on college work as Friday is the weekend which means no assignments.
Friday - Again I am at my work placement from 9-5:30. Then it’s the start of the weekend which is what most people like me live for!
This what a standard week for me as a T-Level student looks like. To complete your T-Level programme you are required to complete 315 hours of work, these hours are to be completed by around March time. You can then carry on working at your placement voluntarily if your employer agrees to it, they may even pay you! Lots of placements will pay you anyway if you are contributing to the business as all employers know that money is a motivator, but you must prove yourself before you start thinking about money as you are entering a job in which you may not experience of working in.
If you are studying a vocational course, T-Levels are a really good pathway to employment as some employers may offer a job opportunity at the end of the placement, which is a real bonus. If you are not looking to go to university T-Level are a really good scheme as they provide you with experience, which in turn will make you more employable in the future.
If you are still looking to go into higher education such as university doing a placement will enhance your personal statement. It shows to university admissions that you really do have an interest in the subject you want to study as you have been working in the respective industry. Before I started this placement I worked in a petrol station, so working in a digital marketing agency stands out a lot more than a petrol station, right?!
Find out more about T-Levels and the options available to you here.
By Alfie Earlam
I’m currently studying for a level three extended diploma in business and my T-Level placement is at Quibble Content a digital marketing agency. I’m trying to build up my writing portfolio while helping other students with their post 16 choices.
With a passion for communication and PR, I pride myself in being easy to approach, which is why I've decided to pursue a career in marketing. I enjoy conducting research and providing businesses with the help they need to gain greater exposure, which will ultimately enhance their operation and ROI.