The new BSE T-level

The new T-level technical qualifications (TQs) in Building Services Engineering will be launched from September 2021. The qualification is aimed at 16 to 19-year-olds who want to work in the Building Services sector.

Vocational training and education have for far too long been playing second fiddle to academic qualifications. Now, this new two-year Level 3 pathway follows GCSEs and will be the equivalent of three A-levels. Designated providers are set to present this new accredited Level 3 learning in England, offering young people the opportunities to learn new skills and experience they need to be able to pursue a career in the BSE sector.

What is the structure and how is it navigated?

Learners will have the choice of studying one standalone occupational specialism or a combination of specialisms:

Standalone:

• Electrotechnical engineering

• Electrical and electronic equipment engineering

• Protection systems engineering

• Gas engineering

Combinations:

• Plumbing engineering and Heating engineering

• Heating engineering and Ventilation

• Air conditioning engineering and Refrigeration engineering

What future careers can they lead to?

A plumbing and heating engineer not only works on systems containing water. With the rapid growth of heat pumps and the Government’s Net-Zero agenda, focused careers involving low-carbon heat sources and managing low-temperature system design careers mean future apprenticeships for this are highly likely.

If a learner selected one of the following as a starting point in learning aligned skills and knowledge, they would be in a stronger position moving forward into an apprenticeship because both these routes are suitable.

Combinations – A

• Heating engineering and Ventilation

• Air conditioning engineering and Refrigeration engineering

Combinations – B

• Plumbing engineering and Heating engineering

• Air conditioning engineering and Refrigeration engineering

If they choose Gas engineering as a standalone pathway, this will map into the Gas Engineering apprenticeship or the Plumbing and Heating Engineer.

Whichever pathway is chosen, it still requires a long-term plan to become a Building Services Engineer. It will require a lot of enthusiasm and hard work to become part of the next generation of skilled and knowledgeable engineers.

During the learning journey, learners will have to complete a minimum of 315 hours work placement over the two years – approximately one day a week. There is no getting away from the fact that this is the area of most concern – already apprenticeship starts are under provided and traineeship opportunities need to be supplied. Adding work placements for T-Levels to the mix will require careful management and support for businesses expected to provide them.

However, work placements are high value because they allow learners to take the curriculum program into work and apply it, while at the same time learning on the actual job with industry experts. Work placements allow individuals to grow with real experience and confidence in knowing they set out a long-term future.

Employers want to train their own staff because they know they will then get a person who understands their business and methods. This puts a learner who has been through a T-level and associated work placement in pole position for a career with them. There would be no point in shopping around, as a person who fits the bill has already been invested in and is standing in front of them proving they can do it!

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