How funding streams can be utilised to expand the reach of the new Essential Digital Skills Qualifications

At the start of the 2020-21 academic year the new Essential Digital Skills Qualifications (EDSQ) were launched in response to the increasing need for basic digital skills to succeed in work and life.

With digital communications now being used in many new areas of the workplace, there has been been an increase in employers across all sectors seeking strong digital skills in their employees. EDSQ, available at Entry 3 and Level 1, presents education providers with an opportunity to increase the participation of adults from all backgrounds, including those who are employed. These qualifications are designed to enhance digital skills, social skills, and provide opportunities for progression to further education and in employment.

Below we take a look at how to make the most of funding streams to support adults and other learners to increase their skill base through Essential Digital Skills.

Digital Skills Legal Entitlement

New legal entitlement funding is available solely for these qualifications, which allows all adults assessed below Level 1 in Digital Skills to complete these qualifications, regardless of their employment status. This means you can offer Essential Digital Skills to all adults within your centre and workplaces in your area.

The increase of digital devices and platforms in our working lives, presents an opportunity for Community Learning and to offer EDSQ to working adults through partnerships with employers, to support social and employability skills. It is important to connect with local employers as staff may be given time off to complete EDSQ, or arrangements could be made for the individuals to complete these qualifications outside of working hours.

The legal entitlement will also fund non-regulated learning for those who do not have the ability to complete Entry level digital skills qualifications, including those assessed at pre-entry level with significant learning difficulties and/or disabilities, as part of a personalised learning programme to build their digital skills. This will then allow them to progress onto EDSQ at Entry 3 or Level 1.

Adult Education Budget (AEB)

With AEB, providers have the freedom to deliver programmes of learning that can include a range of activities to meet local needs. Built into this is flexibility at Entry level to offer courses that directly meet the needs of your local population.

You can use EDSQ as part of local flexibilities and initiatives in devolved areas. For example, in some areas there will be a greater emphasis on digital skills, if data shows they are below the national average in this area. Also, as digital communication continues to become prominent in our jobs and as people look for new employment, there are opportunities to partner with job centres in your area to provide EDSQ. This can be done either as a standalone qualification or as part of a sector-based work academy, to provide vital digital education and help people gain employment.

The AEB and local flexibilities provide the freedom to embed Essential Digital Skills qualifications into other study programmes. For example, ESOL, employability courses, sector-based work academies and traineeships. Learners aged 19-24 can get funding to complete a traineeship – a 6 month training programme, which consists of a significant work placement and covers required skill areas, such as digital skills, English and maths, and employability skills.

How does the COVID-19 recovery package relate to Essential Digital Skills?

The National Skills Fund will provide an additional £2.5 billion over the next 5 years for retraining and upskilling, and to help workers prepare for changes in the labour market. A part of this are new Level 3 Digital Skills bootcamps – flexible courses of 12 to 16 weeks – that give people the sector-specific skills to work in growing roles, such as digital marketing. For this, some learners will need to complete EDSQ first, in order to gain the basic digital skills needed to progress onto these bootcamps.

Ascentis Essential Digital Skills

Our Essential Digital Skills Qualifications have been designed by subject experts. Available at both Entry 3 and Level 1, these qualifications focus on the following 5 key skill areas:

  • Using Devices and Handling Information
  • Creating and Editing
  • Communicating
  • Transacting
  • Being Safe and Responsible Online

Learners will benefit from 50 guided learning hours to acquire important practical digital skills and engage with online platforms and software.

Why Choose Ascentis for Essential Digital Skills?

  • Both our Entry 3 and Level 1 qualifications cover life and work skills in detail
  • The courses can be delivered through classroom-based and blended learning
  • Tutor guidance, sample assessment and indicative content to aid delivery
  • Assessments are marked online saving resources
  • Two free resits
  • Learners are encouraged to use digital devices throughout the course of the qualifications, giving them an extra opportunity to engage with online facilities and a range of software

For further information on these qualifications, including assessment methods and overview specifications, please click here to visit our EDSQ website page.


Get In Touch

If you have any questions on anything in this article or are interested in delivering the Ascentis Essential Digital Skills qualifications, please click here to contact us.

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