8 Sep 2020

Essential Digital Skills qualifications 



The Department for Education is introducing 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). As of the 24th of August 2020, one awarding organisation, Gateway Qualifications, has completed the Ofqual process of technical evaluation and is now offering the EDSQs for centres to deliver. You can find out where other awarding organisations are in the evaluation process here 

Essential Digital Skills qualifications

  • 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).

However, consultation on these has been postponed, and the DfE review of Level 2 qualifications includes 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." 

In the meantime, detailed rules and guidance on Digital FSQs will be not be available until the final version of the subject content has been published, but 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

More information will be made available here as soon as it is to hand.


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