T Levels: Up to £25k up for grabs in latest employer incentive
Employers can now claim up to £25,000 towards “legitimate costs” for industry placements that begin between April 1, 2023, and March 31, 2024, as part of the Department for Education’s (DfE) efforts to enhance the quantity and quality of industry placements for T Levels. The DfE set aside £12 million for the T Level employer support fund in February, and additional guidance has been issued days before the new financial year begins, outlining what costs employers can claim for. Employers can claim the maximum amount without being required to repay the funds if a placement ends abruptly or there is a change in plans.
Colleges and T Level providers are responsible for distributing the payments to employers, while T Level providers have been allocated specific amounts based on the number of T Levels students they have enrolled. Any unspent funds will be recovered in August 2024.
Organisations that provide placements are eligible to make a claim, with the exception of government departments and their associated bodies. This implies that schools, colleges, and NHS trusts are all eligible.
The costs that can be claimed by employers include administrative costs, training for existing staff, equipment, insurance, and transport for students. Claims cannot be made for expenses that could be covered by other funding streams, such as T Level revenue funding. Providers are accountable for the funding they distribute, and a six-weekly data return will be required, including a self-declaration form signed by the employer, indicating the funding they have requested.
DfE has stated that random spot checks on providers and employers will be conducted to ensure that the funding claimed is legitimate, although employers will not be required to provide evidence for their claims. If a student drops out of the placement early, or the placement ends abruptly, employers are not expected to repay any money to the provider, although they may do so if they wish.
The T Level employer support fund evaluation report published in 2022 showed that only 843 placements were backed, compared to a target of 32,466, leading employer organisations such as the Federation of Small Businesses to request the reintroduction of employer cash bonuses for T Levels. Research from earlier in 2022 revealed that just 7% of employers who are not interested in providing T Level placements would reconsider if offered a £1,000 incentive.