What is Essential Skills Wales?

Essential Skills Wales (ESW) is a fundamental part of the skills agenda in Wales, and the only basic skills qualification offered in the country. The qualification aims to help learners develop their employability skills in areas such as digital literacy, application of numbers and communication. The goal of Essential Skills Wales is to ensure students are able to apply these skills in a range of situation throughout life, whether it’s in learning or whilst at work.

Who is Essential Skills Wales targeted at?

The Essential Skills Wales is a compulsory qualification for everyone wishing to do an Apprenticeship in Wales. It’s intended for students over the age of 16 (and in certain instances over 14) in a number of environments outside of mainstream school, from traineeships and apprenticeships to other community or work-based settings, and even in secure estate or military. In some cases, Essential Skills Wales can also be completed to support learners’ progression to GCSE Mathematics or English/Welsh, or by adult community learners.

What is the aim of the Essential Skills Wales qualification?

The Essential Skills Wales suite of qualifications is designed to provide a single ladder of progression spanning over six steps, with levels of qualification raging from Entry 1 (Foundation) to Level 3. The main focus is on how learners practically apply their skills, and in particular whether they are able to transfer their understanding and knowledge across purposes and contexts. Being able to demonstrate proficiency in the essential skills valued by next-stage educators and employers is a great way for students to ensure they progress in work or education.

Why you should take the Essential Skills Wales?

The Essential Skills Wales qualifications are designed with a number of different needs in mind, thus offering better choice and clearer progression path for students. They aim to enhance the skillsets of young people and adults alike by providing a single suite of skills standards which is suitable for learners of all ages and contexts.

Having acquired the Essential Skills Wales qualifications, learners will have command of a much wider range of attitudes, behaviours and aptitudes which enable them to be better contributors to their work and life communities.

Revised Essential Skills Wales

The current Essential Skills Wales are a revised version of the qualifications which was introduced in September 2015 to replace the previous Essential Skills Wales and wider Key Skills qualifications. If you want to find out more about the changes to Essential Skills Wales, contact us.

Some of the key changes (made in response to the Welsh government reviewing qualifications in 2012) which can be seen in the new Essential Skills Wales qualifications include a more robust quality assurance and greater coherence with the latest digital literacy and skills frameworks, the Welsh government’s Literacy and Numeracy Framework and the revised Welsh Baccalaureate.

What’s more, the revised Essential Skills Wales has a renewed focus on developing learning- and work-essential abilities through engaging activities and assesses skills in a clear and purposeful manner, in both English and Welsh.

What’s included in Essential Skills Wales?

The Essential Skills Wales covers a wide range of qualification to allow students the opportunity to get accredited for their essential skills learning. The main categories of qualifications the Essential Skills Wales suite consists of are:

  • Essential Application of Number Skills
  • Essential Communication Skills
  • Essential Digital Literacy Skills
  • Essential Employability Skills

What’s the Essential Skills Wales criteria?

Key Skills assessment in Wales is based on the same standards as Nothern Ireland and England. At entry level it’s the awarding body delivering the qualification that determines what the exact nature of the assessment should be, whereas above entry level it is solely supported by a portfolio of evidence. Furthermore, the skill levels are organised in a stepladder format, with each higher level incorporating and building on previous ones.

The technical criteria for Essential Skills Wales is developed in cooperation with the awarding bodies, who then use a set of Design Principles to create their respective Essential Skills Wales qualifications suite. The end version of assessments have also been trialled and put into context by a number of practitioners across Work-Based Learning, Further Education and Adult Community learning spheres.

Delivering Essential Skills Wales

The Essential Skills Wales qualification is delivered across Wales, by a small number of awarding bodies amongst which Pearson, WJEC, City & Guilds and Agored Cymru. All four awarding bodies use a common set of assessments to assure consistency of evaluation.

Essential Skills Wales can either be taught in the form of standalone qualifications, or as part of wider qualifications such as Apprenticeships and BTEC. It is also amongst the four components of the Welsh Baccalaureate qualification, as means to complement the other three components – Personal and Social Education; Wales, Europe and the World; and Work-related Education.

Here at Educ8 we strive to encourage more learners from all ages and settings to acquire the Essential Skills Wales qualifications. If you are interested in getting qualified yourself, contact our team and we’ll facilitate the process.