Leeds manufacturers applaud T level placement students

Leeds manufacturers applaud T level placement students

Pictured: T level engineering student Haris Shakeel on his industry placement at Greyhound Box with managing director Louise O’Brien and CAD designer Matthew Kay


Employers in Leeds are starting to see first-hand the benefits of the new engineering and manufacturing two-year T level qualification that is designed to equip students with the right skills and attitude for a career in the industry. According to the team at Leeds City College, which is one of the region’s largest providers of T levels, growing numbers of businesses in the city are signing up to take on T level students for the 45-day work placement that is a unique, practical element of the new qualification.

“More and more firms are starting to realise the potential future value of getting a placement student on board,” says Mitch Scott, head of engineering and automotive at the college.

“Essentially a T-level placement enables a business to get to know a young person who is already really keen on working in manufacturing or engineering and is becoming qualified and gaining the relevant skills.

“It’s a chance to really get to know that student and for them to get to know the business. It’s not just a young person’s practical skills that come under the spotlight in a placement but more importantly their attitude and people skills, which often don’t come across in an apprenticeship interview situation.”

Mitch adds: “That is something that a future employer can build on and, if it’s a good match, there’s the potential to progress to an apprenticeship with someone who you have really thoroughly assessed and who you believe will be an asset to the business.”

This year Leeds City College has 25 second years students with placements confirmed, with another 29 students currently looking for placements for the 2024-25 academic year.

Among the Leeds manufacturers hosting T-level students on placements are steel stockholding, processing and laser cutting firm Premier Lastertube, textile manufacturer AW Hainsworth, cardboard packaging producer Greyhound Box and housebuilder Keepmoat.

Feedback for the placement students has been glowing with Keepmoat managers full of praise for student, Barnaby. “We are really impressed with how keen and well-presented Barnaby has been during his time with us,” they said. While textile manufacturer AW Hainsworth reported that their T level student placement was “going really well”.

Greyhound Box CEO Louise O’Brien said: “We’ve taken on two T-Level students, Brayden and Haris, who will be working alongside us two days a week. They’ve already been busy working on fast-turnaround jobs, bespoke designs, and learning about how we produce box samples for clients, even tackling some samples on their own at this early stage.”

The qualification itself is a huge step up from the BTEC it replaces, according to Mitch. “It is a more relevant, interesting and up to date qualification that is as rigorous and well respected as three good A levels and although it’s an ideal pathway to an apprenticeship, more and more universities are accepting the T level for direct entry to a degree programme,” she says.

Leeds City College has recently agreed a direct pathway with Leeds Beckett University for its T-level students to progress to a degree programme and is also working with Leeds University to establish a similar access route. The college is also working on new summer schools for those students heading for university after the T level, to ensure they hit the ground running when they embark on their chosen higher education course.

“A crucial element that sets T levels apart is that they have been designed with intensive input from large employers,” adds Emma Schofield, business engagement and work experience officer at Leeds City College.  “As such, the content is driven by employers’ needs and the course is unique in giving students really good industry insight, with the placement playing an integral role.

“The second cohort of our T-level students are beginning their placements this year and we are seeing increasing levels of interest from employers in hosting a placement student as word spreads of the advantages this can offer companies.”

Emma says that although some businesses are initially apprehensive about what they need to do and how much time will be involved with mentoring a student, in fact most of these business already have apprenticeships in place and they can use the same structure when it comes to hosting a T level placement student.

“No cost to the business is involved, although they can opt to pay a student if they would prefer to,” she adds.

Still in its early days as a qualification, the first cohort of T level students numbers 54 at Leeds City College, and will rise to 80 in this September’s intake.

Find out more about T level student placements with Leeds City College here.


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