Low public awareness of T Levels two years after their launch – IMechE poll 12 July 2022

Two years after their launch, only one in five people have heard of Technical Levels – or T Levels – which the government introduced to give 16–19-year-olds in England a mixture of classroom learning and “on the job” experience in an industry placement, according to a new poll from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

The poll “Public Perceptions: T Levels” found that even if people have heard of the qualification, the majority – 70% - say they know almost nothing or little about it.

T Levels launched in a range of subjects in 2020 and the number available is growing, with an engineering and manufacturing course available to students from September 2022. In fact that course leads to one of three qualifications:

  • Maintenance, Installation and Repair for Engineering Manufacturing (8712)
  • Engineering, Manufacturing, Processing and Control (8713)
  • Design and Development for Engineering and Manufacturing (8714).

The survey found awareness was highest among parents of 16 to 18-year-olds, with 39% saying they had heard of T Levels, and young people aged 18-24 were the age group most aware, with 29% saying they knew of the qualification.

Professor Helen James OBE, chair of IMechE’s Education and Skills Strategy Board, said: “The poll shows there is still much work to be done to raise awareness of T Levels. We need to raise understanding among young people and their parents as well as among companies who could potentially offer placements for T Levels.”

According to the poll, twice as many people thought engineering would be better taught in a workplace environment compared with science, which they thought would be better taught in schools. It is hoped the placement aspect of the engineering and manufacturing T Level will give students an insight into engineering projects and the skills needed to pursue a career in the sector.

Other findings included that people thought careers advisers should play a greater role than teachers and parents in giving advice to students.

Lydia Amarquaye, IMechE Education Policy Adviser, said: “We know that many teachers do not feel well equipped to give careers advice, especially for STEM subjects. The government needs to invest in careers hubs and teachers’ CPD to ensure school leavers are being given the right information for them to make the right choices.”

The survey was carried out by ICM Unlimited and involved a nationally representative poll of around 2,000 participants in Great Britain.

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