Sunderland College is set to lead the way by piloting a new education scheme.
The college, which has three campuses in the city, has been chosen to try out a new work placement programme.
It is the only college in the region to be involved in the Government-supported pilot, and one of just six across the country.
It comes as the Department for Education (DfE) overhauls all technical qualifications, which ministers say are viewed as the “poor relation” to A-levels, as part of its Post-16 skills plan.
One of the major changes will be the introduction of substantial, high-quality work placements as a mandatory part of the new T-levels, which are technical study programmes that will be brought in from 2020.
It will allow students to spend much of their course working in businesses and industries relevant to their studies and future career.
Sunderland College is very pleased to be part of this pilotJudith Quinn
Sunderland College will pilot the scheme by partnering employers to provide work placements to students in this academic year.
Judith Quinn, the college’s vice-principal for curriculum and achievement, said: “Within the current technical framework, there is scope for students to carry out work experience, however this tends to be shorter placements that are usually one to two weeks long.
“The introduction of longer work placements, that have a real focus on equipping students with the experience and skills they need to secure a job in their chosen career, is something that will have a major impact on all students who choose the technical route into the world of work. Sunderland College is very pleased to be part of this pilot that will ultimately inform the way providers across the country deliver technical education, and help to address the skills shortage that many sectors in our region are facing.”
The new T-levels will comprise of 15 “routes” identified by the Government that complement business and industry sectors.
Sunderland College has focused on four routes – digital, engineering, health, and catering and hospitality – for the pilot.
Work placements, ranging from 40 to 60 days, have been secured for almost 70 students in a number of organisations, including Sunderland Care and Support, Marriott Sunderland, Radisson Blu Durham, Hilton Garden Inn, IPB Testing and Warmfloor Solutions. The first wave of placements begin at the end of this month.
Judith added: “This is an exciting development for technical education, and one that the college is wholeheartedly embracing.
“Employers will be met with young people who are not only highly skilled, but are work ready, and that can only lead to a brighter future for our economy and young people.”