20 Apr 2021

Essential Digital Skills qualifications 



The Department for Education has introduced a new legal entitlement to fully funded specified digital qualifications, at Entry Level and Level 1, for adults with no or low digital skills.

This entitlement is now available in the form of new Essential Digital skills qualifications (EDSQs). You can find out which awarding organisations are offering them here 

Essential Digital Skills qualifications - fast facts

  • New qualification available at Entry level 3 and at Level 1
  • Appropriate qualification for adults with no or low digital skills wishing to gain digital skills for a specific life, work or study purpose - for example, to apply for jobs online, to manage finances online or to access government services online
  • Qualifications based on new national standards for essential digital skills
  • 30-50 hours of guided learning

The new qualifications cover five areas:

  1. Using devices and handling information – using devices, finding and evaluating information, managing and storing information, identifying and solving technical problems
  2. Creating and editing – creating and editing documents and digital media, processing numerical data
  3. Communicating – communicating, sharing and managing traceable online activities
  4. Transacting – using online services, buying securely online
  5. Being safe and responsible online – protecting privacy and data, being responsible online, digital wellbeing.

There is also a blended CPD programme available free of charge to providers and staff to support them in the delivery of the new EDSQs.



Digital Functional Skills qualifications

The Department for Education has also been looking at introducing new Digital Functional Skills qualifications (Digital FSQs). The DfE review of Level 2 qualifications included the following:

"We propose removing public funding from Level 2 ICT FSQs and Level 2 IT for User qualifications. Following our essential digital skills reforms at Level 1 and the introduction of up-to-date and relevant qualifications supported by employers, we consider Level 1 to be sufficient in providing the essential digital skills needed to operate effectively in the workplace and everyday life." 

It is anticipated that Digital FSQs will:

  • Replace Functional Skills in ICT, but only be available at Entry level 3 and at Level 1
  • Be an appropriate qualification for adults with no or low digital skills wishing to confirm they have digital skills needed for employment or further study
  • Be based on DfE subject content derived from the national standards for essential digital skills
  • Involve 55 hours of guided learning

You can read about progress being made towards the new Digital FSQs on the Ofqual website.


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