These qualifications are not listed on the DfE 16 – 19 performance tables because they are not designed to meet the requirements of the Key Stage 5 performance tables.
Vocational qualifications are either work-related qualifications designed to enable students to gain the skills required to perform a particular job, or qualifications that may be taken as part of a wider study programme or an apprenticeship.
Schools and colleges may offer qualifications that are not included in the DfE performance tables, if approved for teaching to 16-19 year olds by the Secretary of State for Education in England under Section 96, where this is in the best interests of individual students.
These qualifications provide students with a structured and challenging individualised learning programme that supports their development and progression in line with their future career plans.
They are the substantial qualification component of the study programme and are suitable for students aged 16 and above and provide transferable skills, knowledge and understanding that can be applied in any business setting.
The units are aligned to National Occupational Standards for business and represent the core attributes required by employers in a range of business settings.
Students can progress into further study to build upon these skills or to focus on a more specific vocational pathway.
These qualifications aim to provide students with:
- an understanding of the essential skills required to work successfully in a business environment
- the skills required to solve problems in a business environment
- an understanding of business culture and responsibilities
- the ability to successfully communicate and work with others in a business environment
- the opportunity to develop the skills required to manage and improve their own performance in a business environment
These qualifications are designed for post-16 students and fall under the oversight of the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). A significant number of students will undertake these qualifications post-19.
Following its 2012 review of post-19 qualifications the ESFA removed 1,800 qualifications from public funding and a further 1,000 in 2014. In March 2014 the government published a Reform Plan for Vocational Education.
These qualifications have not been subject to the same reforms as Applied General and Tech Level qualifications (which are specifically designed for 16-19 year old students), however the ESFA has implemented a new set of business rules for the approval of qualifications for funding, based on the 2013 Review of Adult Vocational Qualifications in England. These rules recognise that adults may have different needs, aspirations and ambitions to younger people and include that qualifications should be:
- relevant to individuals and employers and affordable for all sizes of business and for individuals
- rigorous and based on a robust future-looking occupational standard designed and assessed by the sector
- recognised as worthy of investment, giving a clear signal of the economically valuable skills, knowledge and understanding required in an occupation now and in the future.
Regulation of vocational qualifications
The regulation of vocational qualifications is the responsibility of the respective regulators in each UK country – Ofqual (England), CCEA Regulation (Northern Ireland), SQA (Scotland), and Qualifications Wales (Wales). The regulatory approach undertaken for vocational qualifications is different from A levels. This is because there are no specific qualification criteria for vocational qualifications, as there currently are for GCSEs, AS and A levels. Vocational qualifications must comply with the regulator’s general rules, as is the case with all regulated qualifications.
These qualifications form part of a study programme. Study programmes normally include substantial academic or applied and technical qualifications; non-qualification activity including work experience; and the study of English and mathematics where students do not hold a GCSE graded A* – C in these subjects.
Each qualification consists of Group A units, of which the student must choose six.
- Business culture and responsibilities (10 credits)
- Deliver customer service in a business environment (10 credits)
- Produce documents in a business environment (10 credits)
- Solve problems in a business environment (10 credits)
- Work with others in a business environment (10 credits)
- Communicate in a business environment (10 credits)
- Contribute to running a project (10 credits)
- Innovation in a business environment (10 credits)
- Manage and improve own performance in a business environment (10 credits)
- Respond to change in a business environment (10 credits)
Group B units are relevant to the Diploma being undertaken (e.g. IT, Retail, Finance etc.) and students will choose the number required to achieve the Diploma requirements.
- Information technology
- Human resources
- Sales and marketing
- Level 3
Level 3 qualifications are regulated to the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) in England and Northern Ireland and the Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales, though many may be offered on a three-country basis.
Level 3 is broadly aligned to the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Level 6 / 7.
The qualifications are graded Pass, Merit, Distinction and Distinction*.
The unit grades are aggregated to form the final overall qualification grade. A Distinction* grade will be awarded to students who have consistently achieved a Distinction grade in every unit.
Internally assessed and externally quality assured portfolio of evidence.
Students are set assignments. These may be in the form of briefs, scenarios, problem-solving exercises and research investigations. They are contextualised using realistic scenarios. The assessment may require students to write a report, write a business proposal, deliver a presentation, or make conclusions based on extensive research into a practical investigation.
All assessment is criterion-referenced, based on the achievement of specified learning outcomes. Each unit within a qualification has specified assessment guidance.
100% of the assessment is on the internally assessed and externally quality assured portfolio of evidence.
To achieve the NCFE Level 3 in Skills for Business suite, students must pass all units as detailed in the qualification specification.
Students who aren’t successful can resubmit work within the registration period.
The qualifications within the suite range from 360 – 610 GLH.
- NCFE Level 3 Diploma in Skills for Business: 360 GLH
- NCFE Level 3 Diploma in Skills for Business: Enterprise: 540-570 GLH
- NCFE Level 3 Diploma in Skills for Business: Finance: 545-590 GLH
- NCFE Level 3 Diploma in Skills for Business: Human Resources: 540 GLH
- NCFE Level 3 Diploma in Skills for Business: IT: 540-600 GLH
- NCFE Level 3 Diploma in Skills for Business: Retail: 567 GLH
- NCFE Level 3 Diploma in Skills for Business: Sales and Marketing: 561-610 GLH
NCFE Level 3 Diploma in Skills for Business
NCFE Level 3 Diploma in Skills for Business: Enterprise
NCFE Level 3 Diploma in Skills for Business: Finance
NCFE Level 3 Diploma in Skills for Business: Human Resources
NCFE Level 3 Diploma in Skills for Business: IT
NCFE Level 3 Diploma in Skills for Business: Retail
NCFE Level 3 Diploma in Skills for Business: Sales and Marketing
There are a number of key considerations for HEPs when reviewing vocational qualifications that are not listed on the DfE 16 – 19 performance tables for England:
- Some of these qualifications are occupational, and may not be designed specifically for progression to HE.
- Applicants holding these qualifications may be school or college leavers, however, some may be more mature students who are likely to have other relevant experience alongside these qualifications.
- These qualifications may have been taken as part of a wider study programme or an apprenticeship.
- If they are presented for admission to HE it is likely to be in conjunction with other qualifications.
This suite of qualifications has been developed in partnership with employers, universities and other subject experts to ensure that the content is current and relevant.
Level 3 criteria require students to analyse, draw conclusions, interpret or justify, which are all examples of higher level skills. This means that evidence provided for the portfolio will also demonstrate the development and use of higher level learning skills.
Students may combine the Level 3 Diploma in Skills for Business with other qualifications e.g. A levels or other vocational qualifications.
Students are assessed throughout their programme of learning and may submit their portfolio of evidence at any point.
Results are provided on a rolling basis.
These qualifications are current.
The results of these qualifications are reported to UCAS through Awarding Body Linkage (ABL).
Certification of these qualifications is reported on the basis of the number of certificates achieved over a 12-month period.
The qualifications enable students to progress to employment, a traineeship or apprenticeship in the business area studied.
The qualifications develop higher level skills, such as drawing conclusions, interpreting or justifying, and so support progression to higher education.
Progression to higher education may be in conjunction with other qualifications.
Further information can be found in the Qualification Specifications listed here:
- Level 3 Diploma in Skills for Business
- Level 3 Diploma in Skills for Business: IT
- Level 3 Diploma in Skills for Business: Enterprise
- Level 3 Diploma in Skills for Business: Sales and Marketing
- Level 3 Diploma in Skills for Business: Human Resources
- Level 3 Diploma in Skills for Business: Retail
- Level 3 Diploma in Skills for Business: Finance