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Level 2 and 3 courses & qualifications

This will help if you're not sure about what the different levels and qualifications mean, especially if you're a parent or carer who hasn't been in education for a while. To see how the levels and qualifications fit together, refer to the diagrams in routes to higher level qualifications. It's possible to progress through the levels and move up to higher education -level 4.

Entry level and level 1

These usually refer to vocational courses (for example a level 1 NVQ or BTEC), work experience or GCSEs at the lower grades D to G.

Level 2

Employers often ask for at least level 2 qualifications, especially in maths and English, so young people are encouraged to achieve GCSE grades A to C in those subjects at least.

Depending on the career/qualification pathway taken, you may hear references to functional or key skills. It sounds complicated but it just refers to the English, maths and ICT which can be done alongside other courses and programmes. These are the basic practical skills needed in work and everyday life.

Other level 2 qualifications include BTECs, and NVQs - again, it seems confusing but these are qualifications that are appropriate for people taking particular vocational, work-based routes through study, rather than academic routes via A levels.

Level 3

Level 3 qualifications include both vocational and academic routes. Examples are A levels, the International Baccalaureate, level 3 NVQs and BTECs.

So basically, while A levels are always at level 3, there are some vocational (or work related) qualifications like NVQs and BTECs that have different levels.  

Where do apprenticeships fit into this?

An apprenticeship is a framework that combines paid work and study towards qualifications. There are intermediate (level 2), advanced (level 3) and higher apprenticeships (level 4) and it is possible to progress through the levels depending on the job and career aspirations.

Applying for an apprenticeship is not like enrolling on a course though.  it is like applying for a job so you will be competition with other people seeking an apprenticeship. You will need to have a look at the apprenticeships that are available and make an application. 

Progressing to higher education

For advice about choosing a university go to the section on exploring your university options.  For young people entry usually depends on having level 3 qualifications (with the exception of The Open University which is open entry). For mature students entry qualifications may vary if there is appropriate work experience. 






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