New work-based qualifications

Home > Qualifications and learning > New work-based qualifications

New work-based qualifications

The qualifications and credit framework (QCF) is a new way of learning that allows people to study ‘units’ that they can built up into full qualifications. This is good news for the voluntary sector which for many years has been calling for flexible, accredited learning that can meet their needs and resources.

Qualifications and credit framework

The way that work-related qualifications are planned and delivered has changed as a result of the UK vocational reform programme and the introduction of the qualifications and credit framework (QCF). The QCF provide the means by which organisations and people can put together training packages that are tailored to their individual needs by picking small ‘units’ of training that are accredited. It is possible to tailor training to someone’s particular role in an organisation. For example, someone who does both campaigning and fundraising in an organisation can follow training paths that build the number of accredited units in both those areas, rather than following two separate pre-described courses.

This should go a long way to meeting the demand from third sector organisations for good quality, flexible, accredited training.

Skills-Third Sector are continuously looking to develop units of learning and qualifications for roles that are found in the voluntary sector, including managing volunteers and voluntary sector apprenticeships.

Qualification levels

Every new qualification and unit on the QCF has a credit value, showing how long it takes to complete. One credit is equivalent to 10 hours and can include time spent learning in a variety of ways – not necessarily 10 hours of being taught by someone.

There are three different sizes of qualification, worth different numbers of credits. Larger qualifications will take longer to complete than smaller ones.


An award is the smallest type of qualification on the QCF. It is worth between one and 12 credits. This means it takes between 10 and 120 hours to complete.


A certificate is worth between 13 and 36 credits. It takes between 130 and 360 hours to complete.


A diploma is worth 37 credits or more, so takes at least 370 hours to complete.

The QCF runs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and is recognised in Scotland. Ofqual, together with its partner regulators in Wales (DCELLS) and Northern Ireland (CCEA), is responsible for regulation of the qualifications and credit framework. For more information see the Ofqual website.

New work-based qualifications :