1. What is a T Level?

T Levels are new, two-year, technical study programmes, designed with employers to give young people the skills that industry needs. They will provide a mixture of:

  • Technical knowledge and skills specific to their chosen industry or occupation
  • An industry placement of at least 45 days in their chosen industry or occupation
  • Relevant maths, English and digital skills.

T Levels will become one of three major options for students to study at level 3, alongside apprenticeships for those who wish to study and train for a specific occupation ‘on the job’, and A levels for students who wish to continue academic education.

Within the 15 Occupational Maps set up by the Sainsbury Review, 11 have T Levels planned.

2. How do they work?

A T Level is split into three main sections:

  • Firstly, the Technical Qualification (TQ) is the main, classroom-based element. This is where students learn about their chosen sectors through a curriculum designed with the help of employers.
    • It is split between Core Components and Occupational Specialisms. For example, the Digital Pathway in 2020 will have Core Components based on Business Context, Digital Analysis, Digital Environments and more. Then, in the second year of the qualification, students will specialise in Digital Production, Design and Development.
  • The Industry Placement runs for 45 days overall and will give students practical insights into their sector.
  • English, maths & digital provision is also built into the classroom-based element of the T Level, meaning students will be given a solid foundation of transferable skills. By the end of the programme, students will need to have achieved L2 English and Maths (Grade 4).

3. Why do we need T Levels?

Within the post-16 market, there are over 13,000 vocational, technical and academic courses available.

Lord Sainsbury’s review in 2016 outlined the ways in which we can simplify and improve the choices available to young people. The Government chose to adopt these recommendations in full.

Reforming technical education will help meet the needs of our growing and rapidly changing economy, by raising the prestige of technical education so that it is sought-after by students, and so that employers recognise and value the skills and experience that it provides.

Together, T Levels and apprenticeships will provide a reformed, comprehensive and high-quality technical option.

4. When are they going to start?

T Levels are being rolled out from 2020. We have finalised our outline content for the first three T Levels. This forms what is known as Wave 1.

Three additional pathways, set for Wave 2 (2021), have also seen their outline content put out for consultation. This window closed on November 12th, and the Institute is now assessing the responses.  

5. What is the Institute’s Role?

The IFA will primarily be responsible for the TQ. This will involve the procurement and management of contracts with Authorising Organisations.

It will also involve the facilitation of T Level Panels. These are sets of industry experts who work with the Institute to design TQ content that is relevant and engaging. During this development phase, draft materials will be shared with providers.

Going forward, the Institute will assume full control of the TQ in February 2019.

6. Latest news and events

Changes to the Institutes’s e-sourcing tool

The Institute is changing its e-Sourcing tool, post Wave 1 procurement from BRAVO to PROACTIS i.e. all future procurements would be conducted through the new e-Sourcing tool.

To enable easy access to the Institutes procurements, you would be required to register an account on the tool via proactis portal. environment  There is NO charge for registering an account on the portal environment and to take part in our purchasing activities, you must have an account registered on the portal.


As part of the Government’s commitment to reform Technical Qualifications (TQ) in the UK, the Institute is looking to procure the services of Awarding Organisations who can deliver Wave 2 Technical Qualification expectations. The Supplier Market Event is expected to underpin the release of an Invitation to Tender in March 2018, therefore interested suppliers must be sure they are in a position to fully engage with the Institute during this period.

The remit of the TQ contracts would entail development of the qualification specification, the assessment of the qualifications and associated services.

In preparation for the Wave 2 procurement, we are holding a Supplier Market Engagement event on 16th January 2019. The reasons for holding this event is to:

  • Set the scene and highlight the profile of T-levels as part of broader government strategy / collaborative approach
  • Confirmation of the pathways being commissioned, describe the process for developing the outline content.  
  • Define the procurement process
  • Provide clarity about the arrangements for assuring quality, engage Awarding organisations (AO) on regulatory requirements
  • To provide clarity on the industry placement component of the T Level
  • Acknowledge feedback from Wave 1
  • Opportunity for prospective bidders to ask questions and opportunity for the Institute to gather market intelligence.

The event would consist of an informative/interactive approach, not to be missed. Details of how to register for these sessions will be included in the Wave 2 Market Prior Information Notice (PIN), which is published on the proactis portal.

VENUE:  The event will be held at ETC venues, One Drummond Gate, Victoria, London SW1V 2QQ

DATE: 16th January 2018

TIME: 10.00am - 5.00pm

BOOKING DETAILS: To book a place at one of the days, please email IFA.TLEVELPROCUREMENT@education.gov.uk, with the following information:

  1. Organisation name;
  2. Name of attendees (max of 1 supplier representative for the plenary session and 2 for the one to one session);
  3. Position within organisation;
  4. Contact details – telephone/ email address;
  5. Specify which slot you would like to book for the afternoon supplier 1:1 surgeries, if interested; and
  6. Specify your interest in the ‘Approach to Consortia’ workshop to be held on 17th January 2019. Further details are contained in the Memorandum of Information which was published along with the market engagement Prior Information Notice (PIN on 12th December 2018.


Plans are also being developed for a specific session on consortia working. This is scheduled to take place in London on 17th January, 2019. The event is expected to cover:

  • Government policy around consortia bids; the different types of consortia arrangements that are applicable under these contract; matters to consider in entering into such arrangements; and how the tender process differs when bidding as a consortium
  • Ofqual’s regulatory approach to consortia and how this would apply in practice

We envisage that there would be an opportunity for Q&A following the presentations, followed by an opportunity for networking. The session will be supplemented by a supporting document, which will provide information on consortia to potential T Level bidders.

Please note that there are some constraints on how far DfE/IfA can and should go in advising on specific consortium arrangements or in pre-empting the legal and commercial judgments which AOs will need to make for themselves.

Details of how to register for these sessions are available on the proactis portal.


7. Consultations

We are seeking your views to help ensure that the outline content captures the right knowledge, skills and performance outcomes that will enable students to enter employment within their chosen occupational specialisms. Our Route Panels of employer experts will consider your views when scrutinising the outline content documents.

Please respond by midnight on Thursday 17 January 2019.

Consultation page