The T-levels: new qualifications developing skills in the next generation

Michael Keegan
By , - Enabling Digital

As a technology company, having an education system that provides young people with the right technical skills to drive the UK’s tech economy is critical to Fujitsu’s future.

That’s why we invest so heavily in skills in the UK, from directly employing over 200 apprentices and graduates on our Talent programmes, to supporting STEM education in schools and organisations like the Prince’s Trust.

We want to ensure that the next generation sees tech as a desirable career choice that they are equipped to pursue.

In the Budget announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer last week, we saw the emphasis that the Government is placing on making the UK the leading nation for developing technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and driverless vehicles.

Getting the curriculum right is crucial if we are going to provide a pipeline of technical talent to enable this over the next 10 to 20 years.

It is important that government and employers work together to achieve this.

That’s why we’re delighted that three of our ‘Distinguished Engineers’ have been chosen to help design the recently announced T-levels, a new addition to the curriculum for post-16 technical education.

Introducing the T-levels: high quality technical options

The T-levels are employer designed standards, a crucial element in making sure that they teach skills valuable to industry.

Aligned with the Institute for Apprenticeships, they aim to create genuine choice at post-16 between high quality academic and technical options.

Fujitsu has representation on all three of the Digital T-Level panels.

John Meech, a Service Architect in our Defence business, is chairing the Data and Digital Business Systems panel; Tim Chapman, a cyber-security specialist, is a member of the IT Support and Services panel and Tim Ebenezer, one of our CTOs, is a member of the Software Design and Development panel.

Introducing our Fujitsu panel members

All three of our panel members feel passionately about education and interesting young people in technology.

John Meech has a background in education from before he joined Fujitsu. He’s excited to lead the Data and Digital Business Systems panel because of the vital role that ‘Big data’, analytics, data analysis and presentation will have for the future.

Making sure that young people are equipped with these skills now is crucial to solving the technology skills gap.

“Chairing the DDBS panel is challenging but there is lots of participation and hard work from the panel members and some lively discussions. We are beginning to develop clarity in roles and describing outcomes as we get the T-levels ready to go in 2021.”

Tim Chapman has set up a Code Club at his youngest daughter’s school with 31 students and a growing waiting list.

He left school with few qualifications and joined a factory making pottery. He later went back to school to reskill, putting himself through university.

“I can appreciate the challenges that some of these youngsters will face. Many will believe they don’t have the aptitude to go to university but through a programme like this may actually be given the opportunity to not only thrive, but also move into either full-time employment with the skills they have gained or go into Higher Education on a degree course.”

Similarly, Tim Ebenezer has been involved in education in the past, having been a governor involved in turning around a school in special measures. In particular, he is looking forward to bringing a different perspective to the panel.

“As someone who has gone through the software development & architecture route with a ‘non-standard’ education background – no university degree and having started work as a software engineer at 18; these qualifications may have been very useful to someone like me.”

The team look forward to developing the digital pathways over the next few years and to the anticipated success of the T-levels.

Designing technical qualifications that are valued by employers will help young people leave vocational education with the right skills for the workplace, as well as giving the UK the best chance to thrive in a digital age.

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