This September marks not only the first anniversary of T-levels, but also their expansion to a whole new range of topics.
These include building services, engineering for construction, digital business services, digital support services, health, healthcare science, on-site construction, and science, widening career opportunities for more young people.
It was during my time as education secretary that the decision was taken to press ahead with the introduction of T-levels. The aim is to put technical skills and qualifications on a much more even footing with A-levels.
On a visit earlier this year, I was shown around Alton College’s new gaming and creative digital studios (pictured), now being used by students studying the college’s new T-level course in IT production, design and development.
And its sister college - Havant & South Downs College - was chosen to be in the vanguard of colleges nationally to launch the first three T-levels last year.
Initially these were in construction, digital and education and childcare, but this has already expanded its offer to a total of 12 courses across a wide range of sectors.
The established route into academic study has for a long time been the dominant path, which is of course right for many students, but not for all of them.
Offering T-levels not only broadens the post-16 education opportunity for young people, it also provides valuable skills for our economy, supporting key growth areas and those with high demand.
T-levels are a two-year qualification equivalent to three A-levels and focus on vocational skills and can assist students get into skilled employment, higher study or apprenticeships. All courses feature English, maths and digital content, alongside the central subject.
A blend of 80 per cent classroom learning alongside 20 per cent ’on-the-job’ structured industry placement makes T-levels highly desirable as a qualification. But it also makes them directly relevant to employers, supporting the next generation of the workforce to acquire the knowledge and practical industry experience which are in demand by businesses and the wider economy.
The breadth of courses on offer will continue to expand, including accounting, finance and a range of manufacturing options due to be introduced in September 2022.
And the following year, 2023, agriculture, land management as well as legal services, catering and hair and beauty among those due to be launched.
Last year, I was delighted to establish and lead the all-party parliamentary group on T-levels, bringing together a cross-party body of MPs to raise the profile of these new qualifications among parliamentarians, the education sector as well as among students and their parents - although because of my return to government as security minister, I am unable to carry on in that role.
But I know the parliamentary group will continue to do important work in helping to ensure T-levels become one of the main choices for students after GCSE, alongside A-levels and apprenticeships.