New research from Teesside says the T-Level qualifications brought in to refocus the skills agenda are in danger of being 'scuppered' after missing their key audience.
Darlington-based specialist recruitment firm, Populus Select, is calling for more to be done to promote the new government-backed qualification.
Its report says there is a significant lack of knowledge and awareness about T-Levels, which were launched two years ago and are designed to give young people the skills needed to begin a vocational career and provide the skills needed to meet the demands of UK businesses.
The two-year courses, aimed at 16-to19-year-olds, combine theoretical study, practical learning with work experience and particularly are aimed at preparing youngsters for the world of work.
The equivalent of three A-levels, they also provide a firm foundation for those with ambitions to go on to a higher-level apprenticeship or university.
Populus Select’s research discovered that a third of secondary students did not understand what a T-Level is, or its purpose.
The study was carried out on behalf of NYBEP a not-for-profit organisation which works in partnership with schools and businesses across Yorkshire, Humber and the North East to drive economic growth by helping people to flourish, developing skills and nurturing talent of the future.
Donna James, research director at Populus Select, said: “T-Levels are a credible and worthwhile alternative but could be scuppered by a lack of knowledge about their existence.
“T-Levels have been created at the behest of, and with input from, employers with the aim of meeting the needs of industry and preparing students for work.
“However, our research found that there is a significant proportion of young people who do not understand what a T-Level is, or why they should consider undertaking one in place of A-Levels.
“This indicates that, if the intentions behind the creation of T-Levels are to be achieved, it is essential that there is a much bigger and better effort to raise awareness.
“Traditional college courses and university are not the right choice for all school leavers, with more practical, vocational courses suiting some better than an academic route. They offer a strong foundation for youngsters considering a career in engineering or sciences and other subjects, with the option of gaining real workplace experience before choosing a specialism within industry, or moving on to higher education."
Yvonne Emerson from NYBEP, said: “It is important that young people are equipped with the knowledge necessary to make informed decisions about their future post-school.
“This research has identified that more needs to be done to promote T-Levels, how they work and their benefits.”
Each two-year T-Level course has been designed with employees from multiple sectors and combines classroom study with an industry placement of at least 315 hours – approximately 45 days.
T-Level students spend 80 percent of their time at school or college with the remainder dedicated to developing the skills needed for the workplace in an industrial or company environment.
There currently are 16 T-Level courses available with more in the pipeline.