This year marked the launch of the new T-Level scheme. As an alternative to A levels, apprenticeships and other courses, Pentaco were delighted to support two students embarking on this new type of education. Henry and Bradley both achieved excellent results in their T-Levels, and we wanted to catch up with them and hear about their experiences from start to success!
After all, when we talk about Building better futures, it’s team members like them who will help drive progress and become the skilled construction workforce of the future. That’s why we wanted their feedback to be in their own words, allowing both students and those supporting them to bridge the skills gap in industries like construction and make it a better place to work and learn too.
Firstly, a big congratulation to you both on your great results. So how does it feel to have completed your T-Levels?
Bradley: ‘A massive relief!’
Henry: ‘Relief the hard work paid off!’
Why is your T-Level qualification important to you and your career plans?
Bradley: ‘The T-level allowed me to experience college and academics while also gaining vital work experience within my chosen industry. The T-level has allowed me to progress into further education, supported by (…) Pentaco.’
Henry: ‘For me, it’s a stepping stone to university.’
How did your experience with T-Levels differ from previous education?
Bradley: ‘It was a bit difficult in terms of understanding what was expected from us due to multiple reasons such as; covid, lack of teachers but mainly it being a brand new course’
Henry: ‘Provided invaluable experience getting on-site early with Pentaco through the 315 hours of industry placement.’
How did Pentaco support your training? What worked well?
Bradley: ‘Pentaco have put trust and responsibility in me, which resulted in me gaining knowledge and experience quickly. As a result I’ve just started my 5 year apprenticeship at ARU to become a qualified quantity surveyor, with chartership after completing the course’
Henry: ‘Pentaco were brilliant. The only consistent variable throughout the whole experience, provided me with additional training and mentoring which enabled me to complete the T-Level course. The experience I gained being with Pentaco aided me more than anything else in the exams.’
You were both in the first cohort for T-Levels, what would you say to students considering T-Levels?
Bradley: ‘T-levels are definitely a great option for students aspiring to be in a high skilled career as they set the foundations perfectly for anyone.’
Henry: ‘The T-Level is great in theory; however, being the first ever T-levels I think there were some delivery problems in practice at times. Hopefully these will be ironed out for future students and hopefully our feedback might help with that too.’
What would you change about your T-Level Experience?
Bradley: ‘Personally the T-level has allowed me to progress to this unforeseen point in my career so there would be minimal things I’d like to change.’
Henry: ‘Delivery. Education (back) to providers is vital in ensuring students are put in a position where they are able to complete the course to a good standard.’
So, what’s next for you? How you think your T-Level training will help support you in this next stage?
Bradley: ‘Complete my time at ARU and continue to ‘Build Better Together’ with Pentaco’
Henry: ‘Continuing my professional development and gaining additional responsibilities and promotions with Pentaco.’
Any final tips or thoughts about your experience of T-Levels or working in construction whilst you completed them?
Bradley: ‘The change from college to uni was massive and the way of teaching was hard to adjust to. So when finalising the what the students have to do for their assignments during T-level, aim to gradually introduce things like Harvard style referencing just to help students gain an understanding of what to expect at uni and not be thrown into the deep end like I was.’
Henry: ‘Sort out your work industry placements early. Pentaco took Bradley and I on in November, we finished our (T-Level) hours in July of the first year and kept working all the way through, including all our holidays and now we are reaping the rewards of that.’
So, there you have it, T-levels from the perspective of two great team members…perhaps painting a picture of equal parts trial and triumph? Then again, Building better together isn’t always about everything being easy, but rather working together for a better outcome. In this, Pentaco are particularly pleased to have been a part of both Henry and Bradley’s education in such a positive way and we’d encourage others across our industry and beyond to get involved. The sense of pride in seeing great young people like Bradley and Henry make such positive progress is one thing, but seeing the bigger picture also means we’re helping to build a more capable workforce of the future…which is certainly true of our two students turned staff members.
Working closely with organisations like City College, it’s clear that this sense of collaboration is central to building the success of qualifications like T-levels into the future.
John Rowe, Industry & Work Placement Officer for Construction at City College said of the first cohort: “City College Norwich has been at the forefront of the new T Level qualifications and we’re really proud of our students who completed their courses this summer. They’ve had a challenging couple of years but have performed magnificently and it’s great to see our them progressing to more study and to good jobs with excellent employers. We couldn’t deliver these new qualifications without the support of local and regional businesses and we’re hugely grateful to Pentaco and the broad range of other organisations who have helped our students achieve these great results.”
Equivalent to three A levels in scope, T-Levels offer a vocational route to higher education, careers and apprenticeships. Each T Level includes an in-depth industry placement that lasts at least 45 days, which as you can see from Henry’s comments can be just as valuable as the qualification itself, catering to multiple learning styles. Through this mix, students get valuable experience in the workplace and employers like Pentaco get early sight of the new talent in their industry, particularly important for us in construction.
We’d certainly encourage other businesses in the region to get involved and if you did want to find out more about T-Levels you can do so via the government’s website here: https://www.tlevels.gov.uk/
Equally, if you’re an education provider, college, charity or university in our community, we’d love to hear from you on how we can help bring the worlds of work and education closer together, building closer connections between education and experience that really make a difference to young people like Henry & Bradley.