Nationally recognised qualification

A nationally recognised qualification is typically a qualification listed on the Regulated Qualification Framework (RQF). Just for clarification, the Regulated Qualification Framework was previously known as the Qualification Credit Framework (QCF) and prior to that, the National Qualification Framework (NQF).

Nationally recognised qualifications have evolved over the years to become more sought after by jobseekers and other individuals intent on improving their employment prospects. This is because employers frequently specify particular skills and/or qualifications in their vacancy advertisements.

As various types of specialist, bespoke and even industry or company specific qualifications exist, specifying the type of qualification an employer is looking for helps ensure they attract the right candidates.

While GCSEs and A-levels are important indicators of the quality of education achieved by school leavers at 16 or 17 years of age, post-16 qualifications such as Diplomas and Degrees add a more focused and specialised level of knowledge for college or university graduates at 18 or 19 years of age, or above.

In between those two qualification routes to employment, lie a series of nationally recognised qualifications that do not always require the student or learner to have attended college or university. These are commonly known as vocational qualifications and focus on narrower and more career specific subjects such as Project Management, Accounting, Office Administration, or Hairdressing and Sports Therapy, for example.

Organisations offering this type of nationally recognised qualification are known as Awarding Organisations, sometimes also known as Awarding Bodies). They are regulated by the UK government through Ofqual, a specialist department that quality assures Awarding Organisations and ensures any qualifications they develop for use by training providers are valid and fit for purpose.

Ofqual in turn delegates quality assurance responsibility to its Awarding Organisations, which develop qualifications for distribution to the general public through training providers and ensure such qualifications – nationally recognised qualifications – and their delivery are similarly valid and fit for purpose.

Focus Awards Is one such Awarding Organisation, which to date has developed and accredited over 200 nationally recognised qualifications across 11 business and industry sectors.