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Functional Skills

What are Functional skills?

Functional Skills Qualifications (FSQs) are the essential, real-life Maths, English and ICT skills you require in order to progress further in life, the workplace and access further education. 

Functional skills are assessed on a pass or fail bases and a level 2 FSQ is the equivalent to a level 4+ GCSE grade (C and above for the old GCSE grade framework). 

The table below demonstrates the levels you can at which you can achieve a FSQ and what this equates to:

Functional Skill Grade GCSE Equivalent
Entry Level 1-3 Below GCSE Level
Level 1  Equivalent to GCSE 1-3 Grade
Level 2  Equivalent to GCSE Grade 4+ 

Functional skills form part of all apprenticeship frameworks and all new apprenticeship standards – although learners who already have obtained the level required by the apprenticeship will be exempt from undertaking them. (HASO, 2020)

Why are they important to your employer?  

Requirements for accessing further learning has become harder for employers to offer to their staff since Maths and English are now a requirement to pass most education courses. The introduction of the Apprentice Levy in May 2017 also so this reinforced. By obtaining your Maths and English it opens options for you progress your career and life skills. 

How can I complete my Functional Skills Qualification? 

  • Functional skills courses can be accessed via your local college
  • Your employer may offer functional courses within your workplace
  • Your employer may also point you to online resources they wish for you to complete prior to starting a functional skills course

Common Barriers for employers: 

  • Many people tend to not keep a secure record of past Maths and English achievements. If you cannot evidence your achievements employers cannot accept that you have achieved these qualifications and you could have to undertake functional skills courses. We advise that you keep your achievement certificates, once obtained, secure and in a safe place in case you need to evidence them. 
  • Unfortunately even if you have a degree but cannot evidence your Maths and English level 2 functional skills or equivalent (such as GCSE's), employers still cannot enrol you onto further apprenticeship development in some cases. This is due to governed rules when in the final stages of an apprenticeship, in which you must have your Maths and English evidence in order to pass the apprenticeship course and receive certification. 
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