YMCA Awards (previously CYQ) Tech levels 2016 and 2017

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  • England
  • Northern Ireland
  • Wales

The qualifications are listed on the DfE 16 – 19 performance tables in the Tech level category.

Tech level qualifications are primarily developed for learners aged 16 – 19 studying on either a full or part-time basis.

Tech levels are aimed at learners with a keen interest in a particular industry, occupation or occupational type.

Along with developing transferable skills required to work within a number of job roles, these qualifications are designed to equip learners with the high level specialist technical knowledge and skills to enable them to work within a specific industry.

They can help provide entry into employment within a particular sector, onto an apprenticeship or into higher education in a related vocational area.

The aim of the YMCA awards in Personal Training is to recognise the skills, knowledge and understanding required for an individual to work unsupervised as a personal trainer. This includes being able to offer one-to-one training, baseline assessment, nutritional advice and progressive programming which is specific to individual needs.

The Diploma in Personal Training and Instruction allows for additional knowledge and skills in the areas of business planning, outdoor fitness and sports conditioning.

The Diploma in Personal Training (Gym-based Exercise) has the prerequisite qualification (Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instructing) built into it, allowing learners with no previous skills or knowledge to progress straight onto the personal training qualification.

The qualifications are designed for:

  • those who want to pursue a career in the health and fitness industry as a self-employed or employed personal trainer
  • those wishing to use the qualification as a platform for progression on to further learning within the health and fitness or active leisure sectors, such as:
    • a degree in exercise and sports science
    • a degree in personal training

The qualifications feature in the Advanced Fitness and Exercise SASE apprenticeship framework. They are industry recognised and allow Level 3 entry to the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs). In 2016/17 SFA catalogue they feature as legal entitlement qualifications.

Tech levels are recognised by professional and trade associations or at least five employers.

Education context

Following the Wolf review of vocational qualifications in England in 2011, the Department for Education announced a number of characteristics that Level 3 Tech level qualifications have to demonstrate in order to feature in performance tables for 2016.

As a result, over 90% of the Level 3 qualifications previously recognised in performance tables will not be recognised in 2016 and beyond.

The new characteristics for Tech levels included in 2016 performance measures define purpose, size and recognition.

Qualifications to be included in the performance tables from 2018 will have to meet further requirements in respect of content, assessment, and grading.

Qualifications can be included in the 2017 performance measures according to the interim (2016) or full (2018) requirements.

The additional 2018 requirements are not reflected in this suite of qualifications.

YMCA Awards specialises in qualifications in the leisure sector. In June 2015 it changed its name from CYQ to better reflect the wider learning systems and structure. The qualifications are listed as CYQ in the published list of those included in 2016 performance measures.

Awarding organisation
  • YMCA Awards
Qualification codes
600/1275/4 (Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training and Instruction)
601/0195/7 (Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training (Gym-based Exercise))

These qualifications can be taken over a variety of periods; as part of an advanced apprenticeship they are typically taken over a 12 month period.

They are credit-based and unitised; each comprises 10 mandatory units.

Subject areas
  • Personal training and instruction
  • Personal training (gym-based exercise)
  • Level 3

UK Level 3 qualifications regulated to the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF)[1]

A levels are Level 3 qualifications regulated to the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF)[2]

Level 3 is equivalent to Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Level 6

[1] The QCF was a credit-based transfer system which recognised qualifications and units by awarding credits. It has now been withdrawn for all new qualifications.

[2] The RQF is the new system for cataloguing all qualifications regulated by Ofqual, indexing them by level and size.




The qualifications comprise a combination of internal knowledge and competence assessments and three or four external theory paper assessments each lasting approximately one hour.

The Diploma in Personal Training and Instruction requires the completion of 48 credits.

The Diploma in Personal Training (gym-based exercise) requires the completion of 52 credits.

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

All unit assessments need to gain a pass mark to achieve an overall pass for the qualifications.

Resit arrangements

Students can resit the qualifications as many times as they wish, within the shelf life of the qualification.

Guided/notional learning hours notes

Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training and Instruction – 340 glh plus 140 other hours (practice/ assessment/ homework) Total hours 480.

Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training (Gym-based Exercise) – 346 glh plus 174 other hours (practice/ assessment/ homework) Total hours 520.

UCAS Tariff points

YMCA Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training (Gym - Based Exercise) (QCF)

Grade Points
P 32

YMCA Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training and Instruction (QCF)

Grade Points
P 32
Key issues for UK HE admissions

Tech levels are designed to support progression to employment, an apprenticeship or to higher education.

Tech levels for the 2016 and 2017 performance measures are interim qualifications available for only a small window of time between 2014 and 2017.

The majority of people holding these qualifications will have completed their Level 3 qualifications in 2016 and 2017.

Progression to higher education is generally within the vocational area of the Tech level and may be to a foundation degree.

Applicants with Tech levels for the 2016 and 2017 performance measures may have limited experience of external or examination assessment.

Timing of assessments/results for learners

Students are assessed throughout the course.

There are no set assessment days or periods; these are scheduled by the training providers.

External assessments require a seven day notice period to the awarding organisation.

Qualification dates notes

These qualifications are currently recognised as the industry standard for personal trainers.

They will be replaced over the next 12 to 18 months to align to the trailblazer standard when it is finalised (this is expected to be late 2016).

Reporting and certification information

FY 2015 to date:

  • YMCA Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training and Instruction – Reg 1324/Certs 568
  • YMCA Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training (Gym-based Exercise) – Reg 1408/Certs 698
Progression information

These qualifications support progression to degree or higher learning in the exercise sciences, personal training and strength and conditioning fields of study, in conjunction with other qualifications.

A holder of the qualification is entitled to work as a fitness instructor or personal trainer; this can be done in combination with further study.

They help to enhance the practical skills a learner would require when entering one of these fields of work and highlight how the knowledge learned at degree level can be practically applied.

Specific progression routes include:

  • apprenticeship in exercise and fitness
  • Level 3 Certificate in Sports Massage (Soft Tissue Therapy)
  • Level 3 Diploma in Exercise Referral
  • other Level 3 and 4 sector related courses
  • HE degree in exercise and sports science (alongside HE entry requirement qualifications)
  • HE degree in personal training (alongside HE entry requirement qualifications)
Further information

Further information and specifications can be found at www.ymcaawards.co.uk/qualifications/level-3