I am passionate about creating a clear pathway into skilled employment for everyone - not just those with a university degree as has historically been the case – and ensuring that local businesses have access to a pool of local talent with the right skills.
Unfortunately, in the East Midlands we have, for many years, seen a local trend of people entering into low paid jobs and remaining in them. This was highlighted by the Government’s Levelling Up White Paper which identified that the region has the second highest proportion of low paid jobs in the country at 20.1%.
The Government’s ground-breaking T Level programme was introduced to tackle this problem and aims to meet the needs of industry and prepare students for entry into skilled employment, an apprenticeship or related technical study through further or higher education.
T Levels consist of two-year courses which are taken after GCSEs and are broadly equivalent in size to 3 A-Levels. They aim to offer students practical and knowledge-based learning at a school or college and on-the-job experience through an industry placement of at least 315 hours.
I have, therefore, worked hard to ensure that Loughborough has its very own T Level Centre, having:
- Attended meetings with local stakeholders, including Loughborough College, Leicestershire County Council, Charnwood Borough Council and the Loughborough Town Deal team to discuss strategies for securing funding
- Had a number of conversations with Education Ministers expressing my support for a T Level Centre locally
- Written a letter of support for Loughborough College’s official bid for £2.3 million of Government funding to open a T Level Centre
- Been elected Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for T Levels to help increase awareness and understanding of T Levels and shape policy work in this area
I was, therefore, delighted that Loughborough College were successful in their bid for funding and I was honoured to:
- put the spade in the ground to mark the foundations and frame going in
- attend the T Level Centre’s official opening alongside the Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education
Our new T Level Centre currently offers courses in:
- Construction (Electrical Installation)
- Education & Early Years
- Digital Production, Design and Development
- Business Management and Administration
- Maintenance Installation and Repair for Engineering and Manufacturing
Summer 2022 saw the first cohort of around 1,100 T Level students graduating with an overall pass rate of 92.2%. 71% of these T Level applicants confirmed higher education offers, with others going onto apprenticeships and employment, many of them with their placement providers.
Given the success of T Levels, I have repeatedly espoused their benefits in the House of Commons to try to encourage more people in Loughborough to take them up and draw attention to Loughborough College’s best practice, having spoken in the debates on:
- The role of colleges in a skills-led Covid-19 recovery
- Budget 2021
- Finance (No. 2) Bill
- Skills and Post-16 Education Bill Second Reading
- Skills and Post-16 Education Bill Report Stage
- Adult and further education
Going forward, I will continue to work closely with Loughborough College and local businesses to ensure that our local centre continues to provide local people with the high-quality skills our local businesses need.