Effective relationships with providers


T Levels and industry placements can help you develop your talent pipeline, bring new ideas into your organisation and enhance your reputation as an excellent employer. (You can visit the benefits of industry placements page to find out more).

The education provider (college or school) has a vital role, in supporting employers to offer high quality industry placements. 

This guide will help you as an employer to:

  1. Find the right T Level provider so you can offer industry placements
  2. Know what to look for when choosing a T Level provider
  3. Understand the employer, provider and student partnership
  4. Know what to expect of your provider at each stage of the industry placement.

Finding the right T Level provider

To get started

When it comes to supporting industry placements the provider plays a pivotal role. Before you speak to providers it would be good to think about:

  1. What benefits do you want to gain from hosting an industry placement?
  2. Which occupational areas may work for you in your organisation?  Remember that may not necessarily be your core business. An engineering firm might, for example, host a student studying Accounting or Digital.
  3. Which teams could host student/s? Start talking to them about the sorts of meaningful tasks and projects that they could offer.
  4. IS there space, facilities and equipment to support an industry placement?
  5. Is there a particular time of year, considering peaks and troughs, that would work for you?
  6. Who could best provide supervision for support and day to day management of the student?
  7. How confident are your staff? Will they need training to support students? (The provider may be able to help with this).

The next step is to contact one or more local providers. 

How to find local T Level Providers

If you have previous experience of apprenticeships or work experience, you may have contacts in your local schools, colleges or learning providers. If you haven’t worked with providers in the past, you can use an online tool designed to help search for local T Level Providers.

Alternatively, you can start your journey or get to the next step by contacting us.

Finally, click here for a complete list of T Level providers.

From your research you’ll be able to decide which provider(s) to approach as the best fit for you in terms of T Level offer and their location. In some areas there are fewer providers offering T Levels and industry placements. If your searches do not provide local results, then please visit www.tlevels.gov.uk/employers for further advice and support.

Farnborough College of Technology suggest a holistic approach: “by establishing a relationship with the provider and students, perhaps by giving updates or briefings in college, offering staff and student workplace tours and other forms of workplace experience. This will not only provide up to date, relevant information but will promote the employer as an employer of choice for work placements and future employment”.

Finding the right provider checklist:

  • Which occupational areas can we offer? (looking beyond your core business)
  • Which T Level providers deliver in these occupational sectors in our area?
  • When can our organisation best accommodate students? Are there peaks and troughs?
  • Are there specific opportunities where additional resource would be helpful?
  • Are there times when supervisory resource will be too scarce?

What to look for in a T Level Provider

What support should we get from the provider?

Over the next few years, the plan is to increase the number of T Levels being offered and the number of providers offering them. Providers are keen to have as many employers as possible offering high quality industry placements. 

You might not be ready to offer industry placements immediately.  However, early engagement with a provider will kick-off the relationship and help shape how you can work together. They can then support you at every stage of the process.

So, whether you are just getting started or are already beginning to work with a provider, the following questions will enable you to develop an effective relationship with your chosen provider(s).

Checklist of questions to ask the provider may include:

  • Are there opportunities for me to support the design and / or delivery of T Levels and industry placements? (e.g. advisory boards, employer meetings, support with curriculum design, providing staff insights, equipment insights)
  • Can you give me an overview of the curriculum and how it’s delivered so I can see how industry placements with me might fit in?
  • How do you prepare students for their work placement?
  • How are students' employability and work readiness skills developed before the placement?
  • Do you have templates, forms and paperwork to make it easy for me to have everything that’s needed in place?
  • What’s the recruitment process and what support is offered to employers and students?
  • How is communication managed between all parties?
  • How will you (the provider) monitor the placement and visit our (the employer) site?
  • Are there particular, mandatory areas of skill or experience required during the placement?
  • How much flexibility is there in the timing for the placement; and can it take place outside of term time?
  • Can the pattern of the placement be flexible in terms of days and timings and if so, how?
  • What specific learning goals must be achieved by the student/s on their industry placement?
  • If we pay the student or provide travel expenses, what is the best process for this?
  • Can we speak to other organisations that already host T Level industry placements with you?

Catherine Ashcroft:

"The Eric Wright Group is a construction management company supporting T Levels and industry placements. In 2015 we became affiliated with Preston College. We realised that there's an opportunity for young people to learn about the industry and being part of an industry placement gives them an ideal opportunity to do that. So working with the learning provider has been key to the success of the programme. We work closely with Preston College to make sure that the students are suitable for the placement that we are providing. Once the job description has been drawn up, the college will then put that out to the students. So, most of the application process happens at college."

Ashley Grute, Assistant Principal and T Level Lead at Havant and South Downs College.

"In terms of how we engage with employers, every year before each T Level has been planned for delivery, we've created an employer partner boards and we've used these partner boards to really engage with employers around many different things. We want to talk about industry placements, but I think employers have far more to offer than just the placement. There's lots of expertise that we need as providers that people in organisations can offer. We've very much encouraged our employer partner boards to review the T Level content, look at the specifications, at the order of delivery and how they can support that.

We get a specialist equipment allocation from the department for education and getting advice and expertise from our employers around what to spend it on is crucial. Our aim is to provide facilities that ensure we can deliver the T Levels to the best standards. We also have an industry insights program where our staff can gain Continuing Professional Development in line with T Level readiness. Staff time back in industry is invaluable. We've done quite a lot of virtual sessions with students, and this is something that's really helped employers that we engage with to get on board. They support virtual sessions with our students and get to see this pipeline of talent that we have on offer so that we can start creating strong relationships with those employers."

Understanding the joint partnerships of employer, provider and student

You the provider and the student will need an effective partnership to successfully design, deliver and complete an industry placement.

Each partner needs to understand and fulfil their role.

In essence, the provider is responsible for helping you to deliver a safe, high quality industry placement.  They will equip the student with appropriate technical knowledge as well as the employability skills for the workplace. They’ll work with you and the student on a realistic recruitment process and will make sure the placement is monitored and safe for the student.

You’ll need to offer a rigorous induction, a safe working environment, supervision, and a well-planned and structured work placement that meets agreed learning goals.

The student will need to work to the best of their ability, applying the knowledge and skills that they have, and treat their placement, your organisation and your staff with respect and a professional attitude.

Planning the industry placement

Once you are working with your chosen provider, together you can plan and document the detail of the industry placement. 

The provider will:

  1. Carry out required health and safety checks.
  2. Make sure required safeguarding checks and procedures are in place.
  3. Support you to understand the correct levels of insurance required.
  4. Work with you to capture the detail of the placement arrangement in a formal plan that defines the learning goals and objectives for the student.

As employers have developed their awareness of T Levels, they are feeling able to offer placements within their organisation in curriculum areas that are not their key area of business. For example, engineering and childcare companies have committed to support digital T Level placements. 

The Chichester College Group are working strategically with key employers to identify their workforce development and skills needs. Through providing a simple, concise overview of the T Level delivery sequence, timing and content, employers have been able to identify opportunities to create industry placements that meets their needs.

During the industry placement

Throughout the placement there will be regular communication and support from the provider for you and your student(s).

Your teams will be providing supervision and mentoring support for the student(s).

During the placement the provider will:

  1. Monitor the placement, agreeing the frequency and timing of monitoring visits or calls for both you and the student/s.
  2. Plan and carry out regular reviews with the student and supervisor to monitor progress against the placement plan and any questions or concerns can be raised and addressed.
  3. Carry out formal mid-placement and end-of-placement reviews to capture learning and provide feedback to the student.

After the placement

At the end of each placement, you might wish to review the work placement experience from all parties’ point of view to identify successes, lessons learned and areas for improvement.

It will be useful to gather views from staff who supported different aspects of the placement to provide a rounded picture. 

To support this review and learning your provider may:

  1. Facilitate or contribute to an exit interview. This can be a great way to reflect on the student’s experience, to learn lessons and consider next steps for all parties.
  2. Some students may not have the confidence to talk about things that did not work for them. The provider may offer to carry out exit surveys which can be an excellent way of gathering information and key learning points without the awkward conversation.
  3. A review with your provider after the student placement has ended may provide a different form of discussion about what did and did not work.

The result of this summative review may help you decide whether your organisation will offer future work placements, perhaps extending to other areas of your organisation or whether you want to stay in touch with the student for future experience or job opportunities. Your own reflections will link back to your original objectives for wanting to host industry placements in the first place.


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