Functional Skills

What are Functional Skills?

Functional Skills are the fundamental, applied skills in English and mathematics that all people need to be able to operate confidently and successfully in work and life.

Functional Skills provide learning tools that enable apprentices to:

  • Apply their knowledge and understanding to everyday life
  • Engage competently and confidently with others
  • Solve problems in both familiar and unfamiliar problems; and
  • Develop personally and professionally

Functional skills qualifications are available in English, ICT and mathematics at the following levels: Entry 1, Entry 2, Entry 3, level 1 and level 2. Each qualification is separate and assessed independently.

Functional skills form part of all new apprenticeship standards – although learners who already have obtained the level required by the apprenticeship will be exempt from undertaking them.

Levels explained The new GCSEs have a 9 to 1 grading scale to replace A* to G, with 9 being the highest grade. A grade 4 or above marks a similar achievement to the old grade C or above, the standard for a level 2 qualification. The Department for Education recognises grade 4 and above as a ‘standard pass’ in all subjects. It is a credible achievement for a young person that should be valued as a passport to future study and employment. Students who do not hold a grade 4 or above in English and maths must continue to study these subjects as part of their post-16 education; apprentices would undertake functional skills as part of their apprenticeship program to achieve level 4 or above in English and/or Maths if they had not already obtained this level at GCSE.

Functional Skills are equivalent to GCSE’s, the table below shows the comparison:

Entry Level

GCSE below G or level 1

Level 1

GCSE D-G or level 1-3

Level 2

GCSE A*-C or level 4-9

National Functional Skills

Functional Skills, also known as Skills for Life include Maths, English and Digital Skills. Holding these skills at level 2, equivalent to GSCE grade 4-9 (or A*-C), is a completion requirement of apprenticeships at level 3 and above. Holding these skills is also crucial for all staff, both for confidence and career progression, and supports their every day work.

Learn more by accessing the Employer Guide.

National Functional Skills Employer Guide