Frequently Asked Questions

I have been told I need to take an Essential Skills qualification as part of my programme of learning/apprenticeship. Is this correct?

Programmes of learning in further education and apprenticeship frameworks have specific skills requirements for entry and completion. These requirements are not set by Qualifications Wales, but by learning and training providers, employers and/or Welsh Government.

Most learning and training programmes and apprenticeships require learners to have achieved a Level 2 qualification in literacy and numeracy; this is equivalent to a grade C/4 in GCSE English and/or Welsh Language and Mathematics and/or Numeracy. If a learner has not achieved this level, they will usually be required to take an Essential Skills qualification in Communication Skills and/or Application of Number.

Some programmes of learning and apprenticeship frameworks also require learners to have achieved a Level 3 qualification in literacy and/or numeracy and some require a Level 2 or 3 qualification in Digital Literacy Skills.

You will need to check your past qualification achievements and the requirements of the learning programme/apprenticeship you are enrolled on to find out if you need to take an Essential Skills qualification.

How do I enrol on an Essential Skills qualification?

If you are over 16 and already enrolled on a learning programme in further education or through a training provider, you should speak to your learning provider to understand which qualifications you need to take.

If you are over 16 and not currently studying in education or training, you should contact your nearest further education or training provider. For further information, please go to Further Education | Educators wales or Further Education Institutions: contact details | GOV.WALES

What is Qualifications Wales’s role in terms of Essential Skills qualifications?

We set out the content and assessment requirements for the Approved suite of Essential Skills Qualifications. For more, information, see the Design Principles.

We also regulate the four awarding bodies who award all Essential Skills qualifications, and we engage with learning providers who deliver them.

Who develops and awards Essential Skills qualifications?

There are four awarding bodies who develop and award Essential Skills qualifications, including their assessments: Agored Cymru, City & Guilds, Pearson and WJEC.

To find out which Essential Skills qualifications they offer, see the following links:

Essential Skills Wales (agored.cymru)

Essential Skills Wales qualifications and training courses | City & Guilds (cityandguilds.com)

Edexcel Essential Skills Wales | Pearson qualifications

Essential Skills Wales Qualification Suite (wjec.co.uk)

What is the difference between Essential Skills and Functional Skills qualifications?

Functional Skills are qualifications designed to help both young people and adults in England to develop their essential Maths, English and ICT skills in order to apply them in employment and everyday life.

Essential Skills Wales qualifications serve the same purpose for young people and adults in Wales.

Are Essential Skills for Work and Life part of the suite of Essential Skills qualifications?

No. Essential Skills for Work and Life are part of a separate suite of qualifications and are used differently to Essential Skills Wales qualifications.

How are Essential Skills qualifications assessed?

Essential Skills qualifications are assessed via a variety of assessment methods, including controlled tasks, confirmatory onscreen tests, and structured discussions. For more information, please see the Essential Skills Design Principles.

Who decides if I have to take an Essential Skills qualifications?

This will be determined by the requirements of the specific learning programme that you are enrolled on. You should speak to your learning provider to discuss if you need to take an Essential Skills qualification.