The awarding bodies designing the first three T-levels have called on the government to delay their rollout by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Pearson, City & Guilds and NCFE have agreed with the Federation of Awarding Bodies that their launch should be combined with wave two and begin in September 2021 instead of 2020.

In a letter to education secretary Gavin Williamson, FAB chief executive Tom Bewick warned that colleges, and therefore the “delivery network”, will be in “crisis management and recovery mode up until the autumn term”.

Similarly, asking employers to provide high-quality industry placements at this time “looks very challenging when you consider that the deep economic shock we are experiencing will pre-occupy company survival plans for at least the next 12 months”.

He added: “Following consultation with our members and, specifically, those AOs that have to date successfully secured licences from you to design these new technical qualifications, I am requesting that you postpone the wave one commencement of three T-Levels in September.”

Fifty providers are signed up to deliver the first three routes – in digital, construction and education – from September 2020.

The Department for Education said earlier there are currently no plans to delay roll-out and they expect the new post-16 technical qualifications to launch as planned in less than six months.

Bewick also called for the government’s review of qualifications at level 3 and below be put back by one academic year to “provide some much-needed stability in the post-16 sector”.