From education to employment

Vocational and other qualifications quarterly: April to June 2018

Statistics on vocational and other qualifications (excluding GCSEs, AS and A levels, the Diploma and its components).


Vocational and other qualifications quarterly: April to June 2018

Ref: Ofqual/18/6421/1MS Excel Spreadsheet, 560KB

Background information: VQ quarterly April to June 2018

Ref: Ofqual/18/6421/2PDF, 466KB, 8 pages

Table of revisions

MS Excel Spreadsheet, 9.86KB

Pre-release access list



Main trends for quarter 2 2018

  1. 1.5 million certificates were awarded in 2018 Q2, an increase of 3.9% on the same quarter of 2017.
  2. The rise is mostly due to an increase in the number of certificates in Vocationally-Related Qualifications. This increase has been offset by the large decrease in the number of certificates in QCF Qualifications.
  3. The general declines in the number of certificates over 12 month periods may be caused by a tightening in the availability of funding. This is notable for Level 2 qualifications. Some of this decline has been offset by the large increase in the number of certificates in Level 3 qualifications. This change could be driven by changes in performance tables as Applied General qualifications (Level 3) grow in popularity.
  4. The decline in the number of certificates in Functional Skills is likely due to the changes in funding rules by the Education and Skills Funding Agency and revised guidance from DfE that post 16 students who have a grade D/grade 3 in English or maths must now be entered for GCSE resits rather than Functional Skills. In addition, colleges are also incentivised to enter students with grade E/grade 2 for GCSE English and maths as they gain more credit for distance travelled by improving a GCSE grade than for Functional Skills attainment.
  5. Large increases in the number of certificates were seen in Occupational Qualifications (164%) and Vocationally-Related Qualifications (121%). This is likely caused by awarding organisations re-assigning the qualification type of QCF qualifications to Occupational Qualifications or Vocationally-Related Qualification. Following the closure of the QCF unit bank and introduction of the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF), Ofqual decided that inclusion of the term ‘QCF’ in qualification titles after 31 December 2017 would be an indicator of non-compliance with Ofqual’s titling rules. As well as amending qualification titles, awarding organisations are therefore likely to be re-assigning the qualification type. A concession to the inclusion of the term “QCF” has been given to Applied General qualifications that have similar titles but differing assessment (pre-existing and newly introduced with 40% assessment) allowing differentiation between them.
  6. The sector subject area with a notable increase in the number of certificates was Leisure, Travel and Tourism.
  7. The sector subject areas with notable decreases in the number of certificates were Information and Communication Technology; Languages, Literature and Culture; and, Retail and Commercial Enterprise.
  8. The decline in the number of certificates in Information and Communication Technology is due to the sharp drop in the number of certificates in BCS Level 2 ECDL Certificate in IT Application Skills compared to Q2 in 2017, most likely due to its removal from performance tables. The decrease in certificates for this subject area is mitigated by an increase in certificates to several qualifications offered by The Learning Machine which have been included in performance tables.
  9. The qualification with the highest number of certificates this quarter was QA Level 3 Award in Emergency First Aid at Work (RQF), followed by Pearson BTEC Level 1/Level 2 First Award in Sport and TCL Entry Level Certificate in ESOL International – Speaking and Listening (Entry 3).
  10. A number of qualifications have high numbers of certificates this quarter, including new level 3 qualifications, which were not available to certificate in the same quarter in the previous year. Many of these are first aid qualifications. This is due to the First Aid Awarding Organisations Forum (FAAOF) review of the Emergency First Aid at Work qualification and that these should be re-levelled from Level 2 to Level 3 in England.

Geographical coverage

The data cover regulated qualifications in England.


The dataset used to produce this release are available separately.

Statistics collection

All our published vocational and other qualifications publications are available at a single collection page.

User feedback

We welcome your feedback on our publications. Should you have any comments on this statistical release and how to improve it to meet your needs please contact us at [email protected].

Related Articles