Essential Skills Wales qualifications are designed to assess the key skills you will need for life, learning and employment.

They cover four key skills: 

  • application of number
  • communications
  • digital literacy 
  • employability

Most Essential Skills Wales qualifications are available from Entry Level 1 to Level 3.

These qualifications have been developed for use in further education, work-based learning, adult community learning and in alternative settings.


Essential Skills qualifications are assessed via a variety of assessment methods, including controlled tasks, confirmatory on-screen tests, and structured discussions. 

Awarding bodies

Qualification Wales has approved 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, please take a look at the latest information on their websites:


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 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 Cymraeg 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.

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

Further information

Awarding bodies

As outlined above, Essential Skills Wales qualifications are provided by one of the following awarding bodies. 

You can find resources for your specific qualification by visiting the relevant awarding body website or you can find out more at the Wales Essential Skills Toolkit.

Developing assessment tasks

We have published guidance to assist centres who are delivering and assessing Essential Skills qualifications to develop, and submit for approval, their own centre-specific controlled tasks and mark schemes. The guidance document aims to guide centres through the development, approval and initial use processes.

This full guidance can be found here.

Design Principles

Design Principles outline the rationale, structure, aims, learning outcomes and assessment requirements for the Essential Skills Wales suite of qualifications.  The most up to date version of the Design Principles can be found here.