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Higher education minister Robert Halfon visits Suffolk New College in Ipswich and Otley during National Apprenticeship Week





Students and staff at a Suffolk college have been hailed as ‘trailblazers’ by a Government minister for their efforts on a practical skills qualification.

Robert Halfon, minister of state for skills, apprenticeships and higher education, spoke to pupils at Suffolk New College’s Ipswich and Otley campuses about T-levels on Thursday.

T-levels came into effect in 2020 as an alternative to traditional A-levels to offer practical training aimed at preparing students for the workplace.

Mr Halfon (second from right) with Ipswich MP Tom Hunt. Picture: Department for Education
Mr Halfon (second from right) with Ipswich MP Tom Hunt. Picture: Department for Education

Mr Halfon’s visit fell during National Apprenticeship Week and on T-level Thursday.

He said: “We wanted to mark the day by paying a visit to one of the colleges leading the way for T-levels and I think the team at Suffolk New College are trailblazers.

“T-levels are important because they offer students different options. Not everyone wants to do A-levels, so giving them world-class training is important.”

Mr Halfon chatting with students. Picture: Department for Education
Mr Halfon chatting with students. Picture: Department for Education

Mr Halfon was joined in his visit by Ipswich MP Tom Hunt.

He said: “I spoke to engineering students, childcare students and digital students – and they were all outstanding

“I asked them about why they did T-levels and what we could do to help.”

Robert Halfon visited on Thursday. Picture: Department for Education
Robert Halfon visited on Thursday. Picture: Department for Education

Mr Halfon met employers before travelling to Suffolk New College’s Rural Campus, in Otley

It offers free boot camps for adults, allowing them to retrain, with guaranteed job interviews at the end of their courses.

His visit coincided with the Government’s Skills For Life campaign.

Picture: Department for Education
Picture: Department for Education

Mr Halfon said the curriculum for T-levels was aided by employers, so pupils could be taught the exact skills they needed for employment.

“Core to our plans is ensuring everyone, be they young or old, can climb the skills ladder and get the jobs they need,” Mr Halfon said.

Picture: Department for Education
Picture: Department for Education

“Not only would this provide job security, but it also allows us to fill in-demand jobs, such as the need for more people in childcare or engineering.

“This is great, not just for Ipswich and Suffolk but for the whole country. I pay tribute to the entire team at Suffolk New College.”