Vocational and other qualifications over time





This tool allows you to explore the number of certificates awarded in England for vocational and technical qualifications regulated by Ofqual from to 1 January 2012 to 31 March 2022.

You can explore the number of certificates for all qualifications or an individual qualification broken down by qualification type, qualification level and sector subject area.

You can explore the number of certificates awarded in each individual quarter (the 'quarterly' certificates awarded) and the preceding 12 months up to the end of the quarter (the 'yearly' certificates awarded).

The data used in this visualisation is published as national statistics by Ofqual and is available to download.





For any feedback on these graphs, please contact [email protected].

Return to the Ofqual Analytics home page.

If you need an accessible version of this information to meet specific accessibility requirements, please email [email protected] with details of your request.


1. What does this tool do?

This tool allows you to explore the Vocational and other qualifications quarterly data, reporting the number of certificates awarded in England for vocational and technical qualifications regulated by Ofqual from to 1 January 2012. This gives students, teachers, analysts, and others interested in these qualifications a new opportunity to interrogate the data collected and published over the years. You can explore the number of certificates for all qualifications or broken down by awarding organisation, qualification type, qualification level and sector subject area. It also allows you to select an individual qualification.

For each graph created with this tool there are two lines. The blue line shows the number of certificates awarded in each individual quarter (the “quarterly” certificates awarded). The purple line shows the number of certificates awarded in the preceding 12 months up to the end of the quarter (the “yearly” certificates awarded). This is because of seasonal changes in the number of certificates issued over the year.

The data used in this visualisation is published as national statistics by Ofqual and is updated every quarter with the latest data. Trends for each quarter are published on GOV.UK in our vocational and other qualification quarterly national statistics bulletin.

In this app, the number of certificates are rounded to the nearest 5 and values less than 5 are replaced with 5. Zero represents no certificates. The total number of certificates are calculated from summing the rounded values. There might be slight differences with published values where totals have been calculated using the original unrounded values.

It should be noted that this tool does not allow you to explore the number of students taking these qualifications or funding.


2. What qualifications are included?

This tool presents information on the number of certificates issued for vocational and other qualifications in England. It includes qualifications that are currently regulated by Ofqual or have been regulated at any point since 1 January 2012, regardless of their funding status. It does not include GCSEs, AS and A levels, Advanced Extension Awards, End-Point Assessments, Extended Project Qualifications, and Principal learning qualifications. The number of certificates awarded for some of these qualifications can be found on the website of the Joint Council for Qualifications. It should be noted that regulated International GCSEs have been included in the statistical release.


3. What is a qualification type?

Regulated qualifications are classified into different qualification types. The qualification type classification is provided by the awarding organisations offering the qualifications. Qualification types provide information which complements that provided by the sector subject area characterisation. Qualification type categorisation can give an indication of a number of features, such as the nature of the qualification, the type of assessment, the qualification level and guided learning hours.

Ofqual revised the list of qualification types in consultation with awarding organisations in 2018. Qualifications are now classified into 3 categories:

  1. General.
  2. Life and personal skills.
  3. Vocational, technical and professional.

In 2018, following consultation, awarding organisations were requested to review and, where appropriate, amend the qualification types of their qualifications to fit with our revised list of qualification types. These revised qualification types have been available since 1 October 2018 and awarding organisations were given until 31 October 2018 to amend their qualification types. Some awarding organisations are still migrating their qualifications over to the new categories and so we may still report on old qualification types until this migration is complete.

As part of the removal of the regulatory arrangements for the QCF in September 2015, the term ‘QCF’ has been removed from qualification titles. The only exception where ‘QCF’ may still be used in a qualification title is for Applied General and Technical Qualifications, where appropriate. This is to differentiate between pre-existing qualifications and those changed to meet government performance table requirements for first teaching from 2016.

Changes to qualification types are further outlined in the background notes of our vocational and other qualifications quarterly national statistics publications.


4. What is a qualification level?

Regulated qualifications are assigned a level from entry level through to level 8 broadly indicating the relative level of demand of the qualification. Regulated qualifications will be assigned a level by an awarding organisation with reference to Ofqual’s published level descriptors. Qualifications at the same level can cover different amounts of the same subject and take different lengths of time to study. For example, a GCSE sits across levels 1 and 2, A level is level 3 and degrees are level 6.


5. What is a sector subject area?

Sector subject area is a classification of qualifications into business sectors or subject areas maintained by Ofqual. There are 15 broad ‘tier 1’ subject areas that can be explored with this tool.


6. Where can I find explanations for the change in the number of certificates?

Vocational and Technical certificates are issued all year round, but there is a clear seasonal element. This tool shows both the quarterly number of certificates, which is affected by seasonality, and the yearly number of certificates, which allows you to look at the overall trends.

In addition to seasonality, the reasons for changes in the number of certificates are varied. They include the many changes occurred to the Vocational and Technical qualification landscape since January 2012. A detailed account of the context for specific quarters are provided in each quarterly publication of the vocational and other qualification quarterly statistical bulletin and background notes published on GOV.UK.


7. Where does this data come from?

Information on qualifications (covering title, type, awarding organisation, sector subject area and level) is taken from Ofqual’s Register of Regulated Qualifications, which gives information on regulated qualifications and recognised awarding organisations in England (and Northern Ireland, though not reported). Data on the number of certificates awarded are sent by awarding organisations to Ofqual quarterly.



For any feedback on these graphs, please contact [email protected].

Return to the Ofqual Analytics home page.

If you need an accessible version of this information to meet specific accessibility requirements, please email [email protected] with details of your request.