- Northern Ireland
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 apprenticeship.
These are work-related qualifications, designed to provide students with the more advanced IT skills required to function successfully in a work environment, and provide progression towards higher level qualifications. They are suitable for school and college students, and for adults who wish to acquire competency in IT skills and gain an accredited qualification.
The Diploma is included on the Entitlement Framework for offer in schools in Northern Ireland. The Diploma meets the Department of Education NI requirements for approval for use in schools in Northern Ireland, and appears on the NIEFQAN file. The NIEFQAN file shows details of GCSE equivalences for Level 1 and Level 2 qualifications, and A level equivalences for qualifications at Level 3. These qualifications will also be used by colleges of further and higher education in Northern Ireland, courses of which are funded by the Department of Economy. Both qualifications appear on the register of regulated qualifications for offer in England.
These qualifications are designed for post-16 students, and comply with CCEA Regulation's General Conditions of Recognition. They are also suitable for adults.
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, and AS and A levels. Vocational qualifications must comply with the regulator’s general rules, as is the case with all regulated qualifications.
These qualifications offer economically relevant skills, knowledge, and understanding in an area of STEM which is invaluable for the future of the economy, and for ensuring young people and adults have the necessary IT skills to succeed both at work and in life.
Both qualifications are credit-rated and unit-based, comprising a wide range of optional units. Students must complete a minimum of 15 credits to achieve a Certificate, and a minimum of 52 credits to achieve a Diploma. The qualifications comprise the following optional units (modules):
Bespoke Software, Computerised Accounting Software, Database Software, Design Software, Desktop Publishing Software, Imaging Software, Improving Productivity Using IT, IT Communication Fundamentals, IT Software Fundamentals, IT User Security, Optimise IT System Performance, Presentation Software, Project Management Software, Set Up an IT System, Specialist Software, Spreadsheet Software, Use Collaborative Technologies, Using Digital Imaging and Printing Tools, Using Email, Using the Internet, Website Software, Word Processing Software, Capturing, Editing and Presenting Video Sequences, Using Multimedia Software, Computer Animation Techniques, Computer Networks, Mobile Application Development, Using Social Media to Market and Promote Events, Products and Services, Capturing and Editing Audio Sequences.
- Information technology applications
- 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 or Fail.
The qualifications are internally assessed, internally verified, and subject to OCNNI's quality assurance processes. Units are achieved through internally set, internally verified evidence. External verification is carried out with centres to confirm the evaluation of risk and compliance, and to ensure the integrity of the qualifications.
The contribution of assessment components to the overall grade varies between units, (i.e. units have different credit values), though students must complete a minimum number of credits to gain the full qualification (15 for the Certificate and 52 for the Diploma).
Students who are unsuccessful are offered an opportunity to resit the assessments of each unit of the qualification, when appropriate and with the approval of the awarding organisation, within the shelf life of the qualification.
Diploma: 520 TQT
Certificate: 150 TQT
OCN NI Level 3 Diploma in Information Technology Applications
OCN NI Level 3 Certificate in Information Technology Applications
There are a number of key considerations for HEPs when reviewing vocational qualifications:
- 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 apprenticeship.
- If they are presented for admission to HE, it is likely to be in conjunction with other qualifications.
Applicants holding these qualifications will mainly be school or further and higher education college leavers.
The courses will normally run over a two-year period, commencing in September and finishing in June, with results published in July/August.
The qualifications will first be awarded in 2018.
The results of the OCNNI Level 3 Certificate and Diploma in Information Technology Applications are not reported to UCAS through Awarding Body Linkage (ABL). This does not reflect the validity of the qualification. HEPs will need to ask applicants to provide their own evidence of achievement.
OCNNI provides statistics to CCEA Regulation (Northern Ireland) and Ofqual (England) for their Technical and Professional (Vocational) Qualifications quarterly bulletins. OCNNI's Annual Report includes a list of all OCNNI qualifications awarded and is published through the Charities Commission for Northern Ireland.
The qualifications may enable progression to higher education and/or employment in particular, in the area of information technology.
Further information can be found at: www.ocnni.org.uk/qualifications/ocn-ni-level-3-diploma-in-information-technology-applications/.