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The rollout of new technical qualifications has been given a boost by the appointment of a vice chair from North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College (NWSLC) to the national T Level Ambassador Network.

Dawn Helsby, who is Student Employability Manager for NWSLC has been an ambassador for the new T Level technical qualifications for the past three years and has now been officially appointed to help lead the network as more colleges start their delivery. T Levels are high quality technical alternatives to A Levels that combine classroom theory and practical learning with a work placement to make sure that students have the skills they need to progress and help to rebuild the economy. Programmes last two years in total and include an industry placement of at least 45 days.

The purpose of the ambassador network is to bring together colleges and employers across the country to share best practice in the delivery of the new qualifications ensuring the best possible student experience. Dawn has worked throughout the pandemic conducting many 121s with peer colleges advising them on how to engage with employers and support students and guiding them on the best use of online guest speakers and virtual workplace tours. Dawn also helped to highlight how many students, particularly in creative media and IT, could gain work experience remotely.

Dawn said, “I am delighted to take on this new role which I will carry out alongside my college duties. T Levels represent the biggest shake up of technical education in a generation. They are already providing young people with the chance to get a great job, pursue further study or complete a high-quality apprenticeship. It is very exciting to see all the new relationships that colleges are developing, and we hope that our network will formalise the process and enhance its impact.”

Dawn will serve alongside fellow vice chair Danny Brett, Deputy Chief Executive and Principal (Curriculum and Quality) at York College, and chair, Ray Olive, Assistant Director of People and Organisational Development at University Hospitals Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust. Dawn joined the college in 2013 and now leads two teams of employability coaches and industry placement co-ordinators based at four of the college’s campuses. Her teams build relationships with employers, help students to find work experience and industry placements, develop their employability skills, and coach students on placements as a key part of the college’s preparations for T Level delivery.

Marion Plant, OBE FCGI, Principal and Chief Executive of NWSLC said, “Many congratulations to Dawn on her new role. This network has already been making a significant impact on the way T Levels operate and I am pleased that it is going to strengthened by these formal appointments. T Levels were developed in collaboration with employers so we know that the skills students learn will be highly relevant to industry and help new candidates to join, and succeed, in some high-profile sectors.”

NWSLC is due to welcome its first T Level students on to these cutting-edge programmes in September 2022. The college will teach new subjects including legal, finance and accounting, and manufacturing. 

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