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Vocational and other qualifications quarterly: January to March 2022

Quarter 1 2022 (January to March) saw the removal of many COVID-19 restrictions in England. Adapted vocational and other qualifications continued to be permitted, in line with our regulatory arrangements (please see the background notes for more information). The trends seen in this quarter may have been affected as a result.

The number of certificates awarded in 2022 quarter 1 was 839,475, a 41% increase from quarter 1 of 2021. Similarly, the total number of certificates issued between April 2021 and March 2022 (4,842,275) has seen a 27% increase relative to the number certificates issued between April 2020 and March 2021 (3,800,760). Despite this increase, however, the number of certificates issued in quarter 1 2022 is still below pre-pandemic levels, with over a million fewer certificates issued between April 2021 and March 2022 than between April 2018 and March 2019 (5,893,935).

Quarter 1 2022 saw an increase compared to quarter 1 2021 in the number of certificates awarded for the majority of qualification types. The largest increases in the numbers of certificates issued were seen for Other Vocational Qualifications (from 65,135 certificates in quarter 1 2021 to 139,685 certificates in quarter 1 2022, an increase of 114%) and Performing Arts Graded Examinations (from 50,910 certificates in quarter 1 2021 to 114,570 certificates in quarter 1 2022, an increase of 125%). The largest decrease in certificate numbers between quarter 1 2021 compared to quarter 1 2022 was for Other Life Skills Qualifications (from 32,400 to 31,540 certificates, a decrease of 3%).

The largest increases in the number of certificates issued in quarter 1 2022 compared to quarter 1 2021 were seen in Level 3 qualifications, (from 155,480 certificates in quarter 1 2021 to 261,080 certificates in quarter 1 2022, an increase of 68%), followed by Level 2 qualifications (from 215,515 to 279,660 certificates, an increase of 30%) and Level 1 qualifications (from 121,580 to 174,460 certificates, an increase of 43%). The largest decrease was seen in Level 7 qualifications (from 5,590 to 2,365 certificates, a decrease of 58%).

Quarter 1 of 2022 saw increases in the number of certificates awarded for most sector subject areas. The largest increase in certificates in quarter 1 2022 compared to quarter 1 2021 was seen for Heath, Public Services and Care, increasing from 174,575 certificates in quarter 1 2021 to 277,175 in quarter 1 of 2022, an increase of 59%. The largest decrease was seen for Business, Administration and Law, which saw a decrease from 57,745 certificates in quarter 1 of 2021 to 48,380 certificates in quarter 1 of 2022 (a decrease of 16%).

The 2 qualifications with the highest number of certificates awarded in quarter 1 2022 were the QA Level 3 Award in Emergency First Aid at Work (RQF), followed by FAA’s Level 3 Award in Emergency First Aid at Work. TCL’s Entry Level Certificate in ESOL International Speaking and Listening, which had the highest number of certificates awarded in quarter 1 of 2021, had the third highest number of certificates issued this quarter.

The awarding organisation with the highest number of certificates issued in this quarter was City and Guilds, followed by Highfield, then QA. In quarter 1 2022, City and Guilds saw a 23% increase in the number of certificates awarded compared to quarter 1 2021 (up from 79,030 to 97,600). Highfield and QA saw increases of 61% (from 47,065 to 75,955) and 94% (from 32,060 to 62,290) in the number of certificates issued compared to quarter 1 2021, respectively.

The top 3 awarding organisations in terms of certificates issued between April 2021 and March 2022 did not change in their rank order from those issued between April 2020 and March 2021. In both years, Pearson had the highest number of certificates issued, followed by City and Guilds and NCFE.

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