Qualifications Explained

Qualifications Available

Something for everyone
If you don’t get the grades you need to do the course you want, don’t worry. No matter what level you start at, if you successfully complete the course you can then progress to the next level. You can also resit your Maths and English GCSEs if you have not obtained a C grade at school.

Choices vary with different levels but you can choose to study:

  • From one to four vocational subjects
  • Vocational subjects combined with A Levels
  • Vocational subjects combined with GCSEs
  • Subjects on a full-time or part-time basis
  • Apprenticeships
  • Higher / degree level courses

Vocational qualifications are available as Awards, Certificates and Diplomas with many achieved through subject specialist awarding bodies regulated by Sector Skills Councils – meaning the qualifications have been designed with employers to meet their needs. Depending upon your achievement in GCSE and equivalent qualifications, you will start your course at Entry, Level 1, 2 or 3. However for some trades, everyone starts at Level 1 or 2 as it’s about developing the skills relevant to the trade.

You can combine vocational qualifications at Level 3 with an A Level or up to four vocational subjects at Level 2. Many universities prefer the BTEC diplomas as entry to degrees, as BTECs prepare you for study, research and independent thinking. We can help you make the right choice at advice events.


Equivalent to BTEC Introductory Diploma and NVQ Level 1
These courses are normally for one year and are suitable if you have finished school with few or no formal qualifications and may have extra study or support needs. You can progress to a Level 1 course in your chosen area.


Equivalent to 4 or 5 GCSEs, NVQ Level 2 or BTEC First Diploma
Usually one year and are suitable if you have achieved some GCSEs at grades D–G or have passed a Level 1 qualification.


Equivalent to AS/A Level, BTEC National Diploma or NVQ Level 3
Normally taken over two years and are suitable if you have gained four or more GCSEs at grade C or above or have passed a Level 2 qualification with an overall merit or distinction.


Equivalent to HNC, HND, Foundation degree
This is a higher level qualification and during year 2 of a Level 3 course, you may work towards units of a Level 4 qualification with the option of continuing with this the following year. Many students do progress from a Level 3 course to an HE course.

NVQs (National Vocational Qualifications)

Based on an area of work and the skills needed to do a specific job within that area. They are available at Levels 1-5 and assess the competency and knowledge required to do a particular job. NVQs can be studied full-time in subjects such as hairdressing and catering, where the College can provide a realistic working environment. NVQs are also available through work-based learning, where students split their time between college and work, perhaps on an Apprenticeship programme.

Professional Industry-recognised qualifications

A range of well-respected and widely-recognised qualifications are offered in professions such as Accountancy, Administration, Beauty Therapy, Catering, Childcare, Construction, Hairdressing and Teaching. These courses are often available from Level 2 to Level 6 and include AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians), and CACHE (The Council for Awards in Children's Care and Education).


These work-based learning courses give students the opportunity to earn money with an employer whilst attending College. Shrewsbury College offers training and placements in a variety of occupational areas. More details are available on our Apprenticeship section.

Ready to Work Programme

This is a one year course that has no formal entry requirements as you work at your own level. The aim of the course is to help you to identify the employability skills employers are looking for and acknowledge the skills you already possess and those you need to work on.

You will have the flexibility to design your own programme of study depending on your needs, working with a Progression Specialist. You can attach units from vocational subjects such as Catering, Hair, Beauty, Construction, Engineering, Customer Service and Accountancy. Topics include: communication skills, goal setting, speaking and listening skills, team building, presentation skills, CV writing, interview skills, health and safety, customer care, rights and responsibilities, work standards and tackling problems.

Qualifications could include C&G Employability, Certificate in Work Experience, Work Ready Certificate & Vocational unit options, Functional skills or GCSE Maths and English. On successful completion of your course you may progress to higher level qualifications, Apprenticeships or employment.

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