COLLEGES in Oxfordshire will become trailblazers in offering new technical courses for teenagers.

Three further education settings in the county have been chosen by the government to run T-Levels in the 2021-2022 academic year, offering a more hands-on alternative to A-Levels.

Activate Learning, which runs both City of Oxford College and Banbury and Bicester College, has been selected alongside Abingdon and Witney College.

Lee Nicholls, Activate Learning's group executive director, said the former two colleges are 'extremely pleased' to be chosen.

She said: "We already work extensively and successfully with business partners to co-create curricula, provide work placements and prepare our students for employment.

"We’re currently successfully piloting T-Level style work placements and encourage local employers to support us in this process, so that we can plan and develop the T-Level programmes together.

"These high-quality alternatives to A-Levels will support students to develop the specialist vocational and technical skills needed for the workplace, and help to develop the skilled workforce needed for sustainable economic growth."

ALSO READ: T-levels will offer gold standard qualifications, Prime Minister claims

T-Levels launch in September 2020 as a skills-based career route for 16-19 year-olds.

Last year Theresa May described them as 'the most significant reform to advanced technical education in 70 years.'

Students will complete a 45-day work placement with a local business in addition to studying for an industry-specific technical qualification at college.

About 50 education providers will offer T-Levels that year, but none are based in Oxfordshire.

Activate Learning’s T-Levels start in 2021, in subjects of digital production, design and development, and health and science.

The group will hold a T-Levels information event at midday today, at Banbury and Bicester College in Banbury, alongside Banbury Chamber of Commerce and the Education and Skills Funding Agency,

Activate Learning is among about 60 providers nationwide selected to deliver T-Levels from the 2021 to 2022 academic year, as announced by the Education and Skills Funding Agency last week.

ALSO READ: New 'T-Levels' for secondary pupils 'must not become a two-tier system'

Abingdon and Witney College has also been chosen to run T-Levels, focusing on health and science, education and childcare, and digital.

In December, education secretary Damian Hinds pitched T-Levels as part of the solution to an 'urgent' shortage in skilled workers.

He said: "With the growth in the knowledge economy and the demands of business, we will need a high number of graduates in the future, but we also need more people with higher technical skills.

"We want young people to acquire the higher qualifications that lead to high skilled, more rewarding jobs.

"No longer should schools and colleges feel that they must push students down one route in order to be judged a success."

When fully rolled out, the government will plough hundreds of millions of pounds into T-Levels every year.