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Employer blog: National T-Levels Week

Female scientist in white lab coat using a pipette

The first ever National T Levels Week is running from 10th-14th October, celebrating T Levels and the benefits they bring to both young people and businesses.

T Levels are an alternative to A levels and other further education courses. Equivalent to 3 A levels, a T Level focuses on vocational skills and can help students into employment, higher education or apprenticeships. Each T Level includes an in-depth industry placement that lasts at least 45 days, so students spend 80% of their course in the classroom and 20% in the workplace.

In celebration of how T Levels can work for employers like you, we talked to Julie Miller, Pathology Training Facilitator at Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust about how the Trust is using T Levels to reach even more talented young people.


“As a Biomedical Scientist and Training Facilitator for the last six years at Northern Care Alliance Pathology, one of the largest NHS Foundation Trusts in England, I’ve been involved in supporting and promoting a variety of pre-employment programmes aiming to broaden our recruitment to increase staff diversity and offer new workforce pipelines. 

National retention issues across Pathology support roles mean it’s never been more important to consider varied recruitment initiatives and engagement work to try and develop the NHS workforce of the future.

Aside from the benefits for workforce planning, being part of an anchor institution which promotes social value creation is really important to me, as I believe everyone should have the opportunity to achieve their potential. Having followed a less than standard career path myself, I can appreciate that there are many ways to encourage that potential, and broadening our recruitment programmes allows us to engage with talented young people from different backgrounds.   

For the last couple of years I’ve been involved in developing T Levels within the Trust, to engage with even more students who could potentially be future healthcare scientists.

This has involved working with FE providers across our localities to develop a T Level placement model which creates deeper development opportunities and future employment prospects for students than traditional work experience shadowing placements. 

Working closely with providers has meant that we are able to offer help with curriculum delivery and specialist discipline knowledge to help students to be fully prepared for placement. All T Level students working with us are treated as staff as far as possible. They undertake the same mandatory training and checks as other staff, and are expected to contribute in the same way as any other inexperienced employee. As well as benefiting the student, allowing them to gain genuine experience of their role, this also means that we gain an employee with relevant knowledge and skills who can be a real benefit immediately. It also puts us in an ideal position to assess their suitability for future jobs, as we hope that as many of our placement students as possible will decide to continue working with us in the near future, possibly as an apprentice following their course, or in a part time capacity if they choose to continue their studies at university. 

Across the Trust we have inducted over 60 health and healthcare science students; however, opportunities aren’t limited to those studying health related subjects. We’ve also welcomed Digital students, and are hoping to offer placements to Construction and Administration students in the coming year, embedding T Level opportunities across a wider variety of NHS roles.

Working with T Level students from local colleges enhances our local recruitment and ‘grow our own’ policies, as well as promoting wider understanding and engagement with the NHS, even if students decide a career with us is not for them. The real success of our T Level industry placement programme though, will be to see our students learn and develop employability skills and grow in confidence during their time working with us. We hope they will become an important part of our team and future workforce.”