DfE launches consultation on fully-funded digital functional skills qualifications

The Department for Education is calling for views on the content for new digital functional skills qualifications that will become available for first teaching and free of charge from August 2021.

They will replace the existing functional skills qualifications (FSQs) in ICT, which will stop being available from July 2021.

The legacy ICT qualifications are currently available at entry level 1 to 3, level 1 and level 2. It is proposed by the DfE that the new digital FSQs will be made available at entry level 3 and level 1.

They will follow the new national entitlement of publicly funded digital skills training for level 1 and 2 that will launch in 2020 for adults with no or low digital skills.

Adults will be supported to use digital devices to perform everyday activities like how to navigate the internet, send an email and make online payments, while protecting their privacy online.

All of the new qualifications will be based on “new, rigorous national standards for essential digital skills”.

“We want everyone to have the digital skills they need,” skills minister Anne Milton said today.

“This consultation builds on the new ‘essential digital skills’ qualifications which will give adults the chance to develop a whole host of new skills that they can use in their everyday lives and to get on in work.

“I encourage everyone to have their say. We want to make sure the content of these important qualifications meets the needs of employers and gives people the knowledge and skills they need.”

Meanwhile, Ofqual also launched its consultation on regulating the new FSQs today.

Ofqual said that, under its proposals, level 1 assessments will be required to be set and marked by the awarding organisation, “allowing for a high level of control over these assessments, reflecting their use to support progression to, or use within, employment or further study”.

Moreover, entry level assessments will be required to be set by the awarding organisation but can be centre-marked or marked by the awarding organisation. They can also be adapted by centres.

The consultation paper explained this lower level of control reflects the lower level of risk attached to their use to support progression to level 1 study.

Free digital skills training for adults was first announced by the government in October 2016, and became law in April 2017 as part of the Digital Economy Act. Funding for the courses will come from the existing £1.5 billion annual adult education budget.

The DfE’s consultation will run for eight weeks until 11 July and Ofqual’s consultation will close on 26 July.