T-Levels a 'breath of fresh air' for the engineering industry

The £500 million investment in T-Levels announced in the Government's Spring Budget earlier this month is a "breath of fresh air" for the UK engineering sector, says Leeds-based contractor Lanes Group.

It is hoped the investment in technical training will aid the skills shortage in the sector by encouraging those in higher education to take a technical course, rather than just academic-based qualifications.

"The job market is a minefield for school leavers, with more options than ever when it comes to higher education, apprenticeships or joining the working world," says Debi Bell, head of HR at Lanes Group.

"The rising cost of university fees and tough competition for careers for graduates means that more young adults than ever are choosing to undertake an apprenticeship."

Figures from the Department of Education earlier this year show that the UK is on track to create three million apprenticeships by 2020 - but are school leavers equipped with the right skills to join the working world?

A recent study by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers found that 63% of engineers believe ‘the skills shortage will intensify unless major reforms are urgently instituted’.

Many employers, particularly those in the engineering sector such as Lanes Group, "struggle to find suitable candidates with the right skill set for a technical role", says Bell.

"This skills shortage across so many different industries in the UK is a real concern and one of the reasons why the introduction of the T-Level is more needed than ever."

As well as the key core subjects such as maths and English, T-Levels will see students taught specialist skills to start a career in a technical role - through both classroom-based and employer-based training.

"Employer-based training is a key business focus for Lanes Group," says Bell.

"In order to create a company of the best engineers in the industry, there is a real need to continue training and development throughout a career, not just at the start.

"To support this vision, we have just launched a 360 degree igloo projection theatre which is set to transform the training we offer to our employees."

The igloo, which uses wraparound sound and vision to recreate what it is like inside a sewer, will be used as part of the induction programme for new employees and refresher training for the 1,300 engineers we currently employ.

"We are creating a range of bespoke videos of key sewer and drain maintenance tasks, with interactive scenarios so trainees can develop their knowledge and skills before stepping foot into a real sewer.

"Although it is our responsibility to develop careers throughout employment, starting training through the education process will ultimately create a new generation of skilled workers, ready for the world of work."

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