About Qualifications

A qualification gives a reliable indication of an individual learner’s knowledge, skills or understanding and is only awarded to a learner who has demonstrated that they have a specified level of attainment through a reliable assessment method. A certificate naming the qualification is awarded to a successful learner.

When an awarding organisation is simply certificating attendance at an event or is not otherwise making a judgement about a learner’s knowledge, skills or understanding, it is not awarding a qualification.

Vocational qualifications are all about the world of work, across the full range of jobs, industries and professions.  They are commonly described as professional or technical qualifications. 

They are all the qualifications that are not GCSEs and A levels (GCEs), which are known as academic or general qualifications.   

This means that there are several different types of vocational qualifications including professional body qualifications, a licence to practice in a particular job role and/or industry, those demonstrating competence in a particular job role or an introduction to an industry or to the world of work. 

Qualifications are done by people of all ages in a school, college, the workplace, with training providers or working at home on their own. Some may involve a single day’s training and others may take two years full time study to achieve. In every case, the qualification will set out the things that a learner should know or be able to do. When a learner has done this to the required standard the awarding body will issue a qualification certificate.

A qualification sets out what an individual needs to know or be able to do in order to be given (awarded) that qualification.  Most vocational qualifications are made up of several units of learning, each one covering a specific area or topic.  In some qualifications, particularly the smaller ones, a learner may have to do all the units to get the qualification. For most vocational qualifications some of these units will be required units (mandatory) and there will be several other units to choose from (optional). 

Each unit has several statements that set out what the learner needs to know or be able to do. These are called the learning outcomes and they are checked (assessed) in numerous different ways. It might involve an on-line test, an observation of what the learner is doing, a written assignment, project work, an exam or compiling a portfolio of evidence demonstrating what the learning knows or can do. 

Qualifications are respected by learners, employers, further and higher education and many others. Awarding bodies are responsible for ensuring that the quality of their qualifications is maintained at a high level.