T-Level students progress at Innovation Centre

Companies at a thriving business hub by Solent Airfield are benefiting from next-generation insights, with sixteen students on new national T-Level courses joining a range of intensive industry placements at Fareham Innovation Centre.

The technical qualifications, aimed at 16-18-year-olds, provides a mixture of classroom learning and on-the-job experience with a total of 45 days of work experience across the two-year programme.

Launched as a two-year course by the government in September 2020, focusing on vocational skills, T-Levels provide a credible alternative to A Levels, allowing students to gain real-world experience while maintaining a high level of academic study.

All T-Level programmes are equivalent to 3 A Levels and allow progression onto university, higher apprenticeships or into the workplace. Fareham Innovation Centre is home to nearly 50 local businesses, and Fareham College forged a partnership to place students at eight companies on site.

Stephen Brownlie, Fareham Innovation Centre Director, said: “We’ve received great feedback from our customers on the work the students are doing for them on industry placements. Students have got stuck in and are learning essential skills as well as providing next-generation insights.”

“Young adults are also learning the crucial soft skills that are part and parcel of daily working life, such as how to communicate effectively with colleagues and customers and the importance of research and product development, marketing and sales.”

He continued: “From a broader perspective, having these new skills may well put students in a better position when applying for future jobs. Official figures show that total UK population aged 16 to 24 has been declining in recent years, meaning increased competition for jobs due to a smaller labour pool for employers and exacerbated by a well-documented national skills shortage.”

Fareham Innovation Centre has 55 offices, 20 light manufacturing and engineering workshops and a meeting and conference centre. Companies on-site include ones from the aerospace, aviation, advanced manufacturing and marine sectors.

Stephen said: “Innovation is the driver in these sectors – the T Level students are getting a superb understanding of the painstaking work that goes on behind the scenes into concepts, product development and sales.”

Fareham Innovation Centre already runs a successful knowledge transfer partnership with regional universities, with undergraduates supporting companies with internships and other on-site support.

The Innovation Centre also has strong links with adjacent CEMAST campus, Fareham College’s Centre of Excellence in Engineering, Manufacturing and Advanced Skills Training, and CETC campus, Fareham College’s Civil Engineering Training Centre.

Both sites look set to welcome further T-Level provisions in the upcoming years as the government introduce qualifications in engineering, manufacturing, surveying and planning.

Anoushka Ottley, Managing Director for Business, Partnerships and Commercial at Fareham College, said: “The placement of T-Level students at various companies working out of Fareham Innovation Centre is an inspirational example of an engaging, productive partnership between industry and education locally We are grateful to the thriving centre and its occupiers for showing our students the ropes in such a professional, supportive and dynamic environment.”

As well as T-Level students completing industry placements, several students undertaking Level 3 qualifications at Fareham College are also supported in gaining work experience through the Innovation Centre. Fareham College furthermore offers a variety of Level 3 qualifications in technical, vocational and practical subjects. Level 3 is equivalent to A Level qualifications.

Fareham Innovation Centre is owned by Fareham Borough Council and operated by UK innovation centres operator Oxford Innovation. Centre occupiers involved in the placement scheme include Oxford Innovation, CTECH Business Solutions, Guided Knowledge, LR Animation, Psion Vision, KOIOS Master Data, Barlow Collins, and Fiona Lynn Consulting.

PICTURED: Stephen Brownlie, Centre Director, Fareham Innovation Centre, sits at a new table torque design.