City & Guilds

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Explanation of qualification types

Many of our qualifications Adult Vocational Qualifications (AVQs). This title includes qualifications that show you are competent in a job or aspects of it, and Vocationally Related Qualifications (VRQs). These AVQs are awarded through Awards, Certificates and Diplomas which are available at all levels and across all subjects. Awards are the smallest and require the least time to complete, certificates are larger and diplomas are the largest and usually contain a lot more units.

Many competence qualifications have as their primary purpose showing that you have skills that are needed to do particular jobs. These are usually completed in the workplace. A key part of your course will include proving that you can do certain work-related tasks. During the course you will typically record activities through your portfolio, where you build evidence of the work you have done, and by observation, where an assessor watches you work and checks that you can perform the necessary tasks. The best known areNational Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) and Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs), the Scottish equivalent of NVQs.

VRQs offer pathways and levels which focus on the development of the underlying principals and practical skills required in varying industries. They are designed to deliver a high level of occupational capability, and a sound platform to progress into employment. The flexible structures ensure they will appeal to individual in full time or part time education, as well as continuous professional development.

New types of qualifications are being introduced for young people:

Tech Levels, for students wishing to specialise in a technical occupation or occupational group. They will equip a student with specialist knowledge and skills, enabling entry to employment or an Apprenticeship in that occupational group or progression to a related further or higher education course. In some cases they can provide a ‘licence to practise’ or exemption from professional exams. Tech Level qualifications will feature as one of three components of the Government’s Technical Baccalaureate (TechBacc) performance table measure, which will be introduced for courses beginning in September 2014 and reported in performance tables from 2016.

Advanced General Qualifications, for students wishing to continue their general education at advanced level through applied learning. They equip a student with transferable knowledge and skills. They will fulfil entry requirements for a range of higher education courses, either by meeting entry requirements in their own right or being accepted alongside other qualifications at the same level. They may also enable entry to employment or an Apprenticeship.

Substantial vocational qualifications at level 2 to support students in progressing to a particular trade or occupation.

Core Skills and Essential Skills

These are available in Scotland (Core Skills) and Wales (Essential Skills). They cover the key areas of communication, numeracy, information and communication technology, problem solving and working with others, which are required in almost every workplace.

Functional Skills

Functional Skills are qualifications in English, maths and ICT that support you to develop the practical skills you need for life, education and the workplace.

International Vocational Qualifications (IVQs)

Our range of International Vocational Qualifications (IVQs) are designed to measure the knowledge and practical skills of learners and are designed specifically for the international marketplace. There are two types, Craft and Technician, and they are available at three levels, Certificate, Diploma and Advanced Diploma. They’re recognised by employers all over the world, so you can take them with you when you travel.

Single Subject Qualifications

These are short course, single subject, qualifications that cover all the key skills that both employers and employees need in the modern office. A Diploma can be awarded when a combination of subjects have been achieved; the Diplomas are in Business Skills and Finance and Accounting. They’re recognised by employers all over the world, so you can take them with you when you travel.

International English Qualifications

Our English Qualifications (IEQs) are a comprehensive range of quality English language awards designed for those who need a passport to work, study and travel around the globe. They are recognised by employers, educational institutions and professional bodies worldwide.

Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) qualifications

The ILM is the professional membership arm of the City & Guilds group, dedicated to equipping you with all the leadership and management techniques and teaching to help you get ahead. ILM qualifications are recognised all over the world as the sign of a motivated and skilled leader or manager. 

Visit the ILM website >

Professional Recognition Awards

If you've scaled the heights in your career and want something to prove it, then City & Guilds' Professional Recognition Awards are just the thing. These unique qualifications recognise your professional experience and skills, and show employers that you really are among the best in your business.

View our Professional Recognition Awards >

Other learning programmes


City & Guilds is developing a new vocational programme of study for 14–19 year olds called the TechBac®. Available for study from September 2014, the City & Guilds TechBac® will provide young people with relevant technical knowledge alongside the skills and competencies demanded by employers.

TechBac >

Apprenticeships and Modern Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are a great way to earn while you learn, and prepare yourself for a brilliant career. Each apprenticeship is a mix of qualifications and on the job experience. 
They are available across a wide range of industries - just like our qualifications.

Apprenticeships >


Our traineeship programme consists of high-quality work placement, work preparation training in gaining employability skills, and English and Maths.

Traineeships >

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