Difference between T-Levels and Apprenticeships

T-Levels and Apprenticeships – they are two distinct pathways shaping the educational landscape. Understanding the differences between T-Levels and Apprenticeships is super important when you're figuring out your path in post-secondary education. Whether you're a student or parent seeking clarity, we can help you learn the characteristics, benefits, and considerations of both T-Levels and Apprenticeships, to help you to make an informed decision.

T-Levels vs Apprenticeships


What is a T-Level? 

A predominantly classroom-based technical qualification, where 80% of the programme is dedicated to theoretical learning and 20% is allocated to hands-on industry placement experience.

Age range: 16-19

Duration: 2 years (there is also an optional 1-year transition programme).

When can you start? Usually in September.

Level: Equivalent to a Level 3 qualification or 3 A Levels.

English and maths: If not already achieved, students will need to achieve GCSE or Functional Skills maths and English.

How are T-Levels assessed? The T-Level undergoes comprehensive assessment and grading conducted by the training provider. Completing all elements is mandatory for the student to attain their overall grade.

How are they graded? Pass, Merit, Distinction, Distinction*. If not all elements are met, they will receive a statement of achievement.

Paid? No payment.

Entry requirements: These are set by the college, school or other learning provider and will vary across courses.

Included on UCAS Tariff? Yes.

Suitability: Leads on to further education OR skilled employment.

Additional skills gained: Industry-recognised certification and workplace experience.

Suitable for those with additional needs? Yes. There are flexibilities around the English and maths requirements and the industry placement to help students with SEND participate.

Next steps/progression: Apprenticeships, Further Education, employment.


What is an apprenticeship? 

Typically, it is full-time paid employment while gaining qualifications in the chosen field. It is mainly based in the workplace with 20% off-the-job training.

Age range: 16+ (no upper age limit).

Duration: 12 months + depending on the level and the experience of the apprentice.

When can you start? Throughout the year.

Level: Includes Level 2 through to Level 7 (Master’s).

English and maths: If grade 4 at GCSE has not been achieved, then Functional Skills at the appropriate level will be incorporated into the apprenticeship.

How are apprenticeships assessed? The apprentice will be observed, hold discussions and complete written work for the training provider who will grade the work. The apprentice must complete an End Point Assessment at the end of the apprenticeship.

How are they graded? Pass, Merit and Distinction.

Paid? Paid National Minimum Wage for apprentices.

Entry requirements: These are set by the employer and stipulated in the Apprenticeship Standard and will vary across different job roles.

Included on UCAS Tariff? It will depend on the qualifications included within the apprenticeship standard.

Suitability: For those ready to enter the workforce at 16.

Additional skills gained: Industry knowledge, skills and behaviours, plus sector-recognised certification.

Suitable for those with additional needs? Yes. There are flexibilities around the English and maths requirements of apprenticeships, and the employer and training provider can access additional support to assist apprentices.

Next steps/progression: Higher/degree apprenticeships, professional qualifications, and employment.