Use your expertise to help develop qualifications

Part of the solution – the essential role of industry in technical qualification development

19 January 2023

In response to persistent national skills shortages in multiple industries, the government has partnered with the Institute of Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) to roll out a variety of new technical qualifications.

Launched in September 2020, T Levels are a critical part, and starting point, of the post-16 qualifications reform and the forthcoming changes to Level 2 and Level 3 technical qualifications are set to continue these significant reforms.

The reforms aim to raise technical education to be equitable with academic education. The first step? Rationalise hundreds of qualifications to simplify the complex technical education landscape that learners face when making choices about their pathways and progression. The planned reforms will provide high-quality, employer-driven qualifications linked directly to employer-led standards. In short, learners and organisations can expect higher standards of learning and more robust career pathways into the UK’s opportunity-rich technical workplace. 

“Employers are the ultimate beneficiaries so we need to ensure the content is relevant and challenging, so the learners not only get the best experience but can use their technical qualification as underpinning knowledge for any future career or higher apprenticeship.” 

–Mary O’Shaughnessy, Learning Delivery Initiatives Specialist, Cadent 

How are employers involved?

Aptly described as “designed with employers, for employers” the upcoming reforms of Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications and the development of T Level technical qualifications (TQs) require the direct involvement of experts from industry-leading organisations of all sizes. This involvement ensures that these qualifications produce competent, work-ready learners who are equipped with the skills and behaviours that industries need.  

During the development phase of the new/replacement TQs, awarding organisations will be reaching out and engaging with employers to gather data to show what the future skills needs are, and to prove there is employer demand for a qualification. 

In addition to their role in the development of technical qualifications, employers can collaborate further with awarding organisations as employer validation partners. Validation activities involve using your up-to-date knowledge of trends within the industry to review the content that forms the basis of the technical qualification and assessing the real-world validity of projects and assignments to ensure that, in the ever-evolving technical landscape, these qualifications remain robust and fit-for-purpose.  

Why should organisations get involved?

According to research conducted by the Department of Education (DfE), overall employer response to T Levels has been positive. Employers have welcomed the notion that learners will have undertaken some preparation and training prior to their 45-day industry placement and will complete their programme with a greater understanding of how to apply their skills in their chosen careers.  

This dynamic has proven particularly effective in the UK’s key technical industries, which are suffering critical skills shortages and high staff turnover rates. Industries that can now begin benefitting from new T Levels include construction, engineering, business and land-based industries.  

By engaging with awarding organisations during the qualification development stage for Level 2 and 3 reforms, employers can take a giant leap forward in contributing to the development of talent of an even wider range of industries and stand first in line to reap the benefits afforded by these powerful technical qualifications.  

Play a significant role in closing skills gaps and increasing industry performance through specialist advice to awarding organisations responsible for developing technical qualifications 

  • Nurture cost-effective recruitment by bringing talented, enthusiastic people into their fields 
  • Access young talent for junior positions and apprenticeship opportunities 
  • Contribute to introducing the fresh ideas and creative thinking of younger generations into the industry 
  • Participate in improving social mobility and EDI, while boosting the reputation of the organisation  

“Joining the validation group was an easy decision for us and was key in helping us to ensure the programmes were fit for the future and delivered the development we wanted for our employees and sector. However, it also gave us so much more than we expected, and we are so glad we took the decision to join. Via the validation group, not only did it give us a chance to ensure quality of programmes, but it allowed us to network, inspire and be inspired by the people that we have met through the group.” 

–Robert Watts, Consultant, Capability-360 

City & Guilds welcomes employer contributors

As Level 2 and 3 reforms roll out, and at a time when so many qualifications are being defunded, we welcome industry members to join us as we prepare the next generation to enter careers in technical roles – many of which fall within short-staffed, but exceedingly promising, essential sectors.  

City & Guilds currently holds eight T Level qualification contracts, awarded by IfATE and with 18 new qualifications launching in 2025, and 60 more to follow, the future is indeed bright for technical education – provided we work together to get there. 

As education has always been, and remains, central to City & Guilds, we have established Employer Industry Boards (EIB), comprising a group of trusted representatives from a variety of sectors. By doing so, we hope to give employers a voice in what skills need to be developed, and how to best do so.  

We need technical experts and senior decision-makers from a range of sectors to help with validation activities and to develop new technical qualifications. To find out more about becoming a validation partner or how you can use your industry expertise to contribute to the development of new qualifications with City & Guilds, please visit Employer Contributors | City & Guilds Group Careers (

City & Guilds are keen to engage with industry members from a wide variety of sectors to ensure the employer voice is heard.

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