Functional Skills are valuable qualifications according to research from the Education and Training Foundation. The ‘Making Maths and English Work for All’ review engaged with 1395 individuals including employers, learners and practitioners, asking for opinions and concerns regarding non-GCSE English and maths provision.
The vast majority of respondents to the survey felt that practical English and maths skills are important, and employers clearly want their new recruits to have practical and applied skills.
Almost half of employers who responded to the review were aware of Functional Skills, with 37% saying they are ‘very familiar’ with the qualifications. This is despite the fact that a large number of the employer respondents are ‘not experts’ in English or maths.
87% of employers who were aware of Functional Skills stated that they think that they are appropriate in developing the skills needed in employees and/or recruits, highlighting the qualification’s value.
When asked whether new vocational qualifications for English and maths should be introduced, more than half of employers stated that they didn’t see a need for new qualifications – 25% of employers felt no action was necessary at all, while a third wanted to see existing qualifications improved. 35% would like new qualifications to be introduced.
Both the learners and practitioners surveyed agreed that practical relevance is important when studying English and maths. There was also a general consensus that non-GCSE qualifications, particularly Functional Skills, help to re-engage and motivate learners who are required to study English and/or maths.
In terms of the rebranding debate, the majority of respondents to the review felt content with the ‘Functional Skills’ title, and those who weren’t struggled to suggest a viable alternative. It is also perceived that branding Functional Skills as a ‘stepping stone’ to GCSE is not helpful, and that it should be seen as a respected, valuable alternative.