Tech Ed Study: Progression of the first T Level cohort

Understanding learners’ experiences of new technical education programmes and their progression into further study and work.
Carpenter Training Female Apprentice To Use Plane

This report is part of a longitudinal study (2020-2024) for the Department for Education (DfE).

About the study

Ongoing reforms to technical education are designed to improve the quality of technical education and therefore the technical skills needed to boost productivity in the UK economy.

A key aspect of these reforms is the introduction of T Levels: two-year level 3 technical courses which offer learners an alternative to existing study options after GCSEs. The first cohort of T Level learners began their programmes in autumn 2020.

This report draws on data from the three longitudinal surveys of the first T Level cohort, with a particular focus on: 

  • Learner destinations and outcomes after the course, including learners’ current work and study, whether they have stayed within their T Level field (either the general field or specifically within their T Level occupational specialism), how these outcomes related to learners’ characteristics and T Level experiences, and whether learners’ aspirations changed over time
  • Future plans, including learners’ intentions for future work or study, and factors shaping their career decisions
  • Reflections on T Levels, including how their programme prepared them for their current work/study, the role of key programme elements such as the industry placement, and whether they would recommend the programme. 

The report also uses data from earlier surveys of this cohort for longitudinal analysis, for example relating destinations to course experience.

Across both stages of fieldwork (soft launch and mainstage), this wave of the study achieved a final response rate of 36% (477 productive interviews).


  • Almost all of the first cohort of T Level completers were in education or employment. The most common destinations were a university degree (44%), paid work (40%), or an apprenticeship (13%).
  • Over a quarter of T Level completers in paid work or an apprenticeship reported working for the organisation that provided their T Level industry placement.
  • Three-quarters of T Level completers had remained in the general field of their T Level, including the majority of those who were currently studying.
  • Most learners did not significantly change their career plans during their T Level programme. Changes in career plans during the course were most commonly influenced by the T Level industry placement, learning more about the occupation, and advice from teachers and career staff.
  • Stimulating and interesting work, and a suitable work-life balance, were the most commonly reported important factors in learners’ career decision-making.
  • About four-fifths of T Level completers agreed that their T Level had allowed them to progress to what they want to do, and prepared them for their current study, the workplace, and their future career.
  • The industry placement was seen as the most important element in preparing T Level completers for what they went on to do, followed by technical knowledge and practical skills.
  • T Level completers most commonly reported the industry placement preparing them for their current activity through the ‘experience of a real workplace’ it offered.
  • Almost three-quarters of the first T Level cohort were ‘very’ or ‘quite likely’ to recommend their programme to others.