Functional Skills are an integral part of delivering apprenticeships in the UK.

If you’re an employer employing an apprentice or a training provider training an apprentice, you will have seen them listed as requirements on the apprenticeship standards.

No matter what apprenticeship you are delivering, your apprentice will need to provide evidence that they have achieved Functional Skills qualifications or some equivalent. (More on the equivalents later.)

What are Functional Skills?

Functional Skills are the basic skills that all people need to be able to operate confidently and successfully in work and life.

Functional Skills provide learning tools that enable apprentices to:

  • Apply their knowledge and understanding to everyday life;
  • Engage competently and confidently with others;
  • Solve problems in both familiar and unfamiliar problems; and
  • Develop personally and professionally.

Why are Functional Skills important to apprenticeships?

Functional Skills are a key component in all the apprenticeship standards.

Achieving a Functional Skills qualification demonstrates that an apprentice has all the skills they need in English and maths to be able to engage with their programme. They help apprentices to develop and secure the broader range of aptitudes, attitudes and behaviours.

For all apprenticeships that TQUK offers End-Point Assessment for, either Level 1 or Level 2 Functional Skills qualifications are required.

In some circumstances, achieving Level 1 Functional Skills qualifications and attempting a Level 2 is sufficient.

All Functional Skills qualifications must be completed before the Gateway stage of the apprenticeship.

With the apprenticeship standards in full swing, we’ve come across some recurring questions about what exactly can be used as evidence of Functional Skills. If you have an apprentice who may not fit the mould in terms of their Functional Skills qualifications, the following questions may help!

My apprentice does not have Functional Skills qualifications for a Level 2 or above apprenticeship. Are there any other qualifications that can act as an equivalent?

Yes, there are!

The government has provided a list of acceptable current or prior equivalent qualifications for English and Maths.

Follow the link and click on:

This will open a spreadsheet. Scroll down to the bottom of the spreadsheet and click on one of the following icons:

After you click on one of the icons, the spreadsheets that appear will provide:

  • Equivalent qualifications;
  • Whether the qualification satisfies the English and/or Maths requirements; and
  • The minimum acceptable grade required for each qualification.

My apprentice has completed a diagnostic assessment. The outcome of this assessment shows that they can work at a level in English and maths that is at, or above, the required level. Does this count as sufficient evidence to satisfy the standard requirements?

No. Diagnostic assessments are not sufficient evidence to meet the requirements of the apprenticeship standard.

To be ‘assessed at a particular level’ refers to particular qualifications related to the apprenticeship (Functional Skills or GCSE) rather than another type of assessment.

Please see the Apprenticeship funding rules for training providers, P124-125 for more information:

My apprentice sat an exam some time ago that proves their ability to work at a particular level in English and maths. They do not have a copy of the certificate, but they have achieved a higher vocational or professional qualification, like a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Will this be accepted as evidence to fulfil the Functional Skills requirements?

No. As the End-Point Assessment Organisation, TQUK must ensure that the apprentice has achieved the required qualification.  You must produce evidence to that effect. Evidence of this achievement is most commonly a copy of the qualification certificate. Where overseas qualifications are being used, confirmation from NARIC is required.

If this evidence cannot be provided, your apprentice will not be able to proceed to the Gateway stage of the apprenticeship.

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The TQUK team is more than happy to help with any questions or concerns you may have. You can send questions to epa@tquk.org or you can call 03333 583 344.

To keep up to date with the latest apprenticeships and end-point assessment news, return to TQUK EPA’s blog or follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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How TQUK Can Help You

The new apprenticeship standards are designed to improve upon what’s gone before and help with the apprentice’s initial journey into their chosen career, before you know it, they’ll be on the road to success.

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