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Education and employers join forces to improve youngsters' life skills

Leading figures from business and education came together yesterday as the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency (QCDA) launched a new qualification aimed at providing young people with essential life skills that will help them succeed in further education or employment.

Speakers from the Armed Forces and British Institute of Innkeepers were at the event, talking about the benefits Functional Skills will bring to employers. Minister for 14-19 Education, Iain Wright, also praised the qualification, which will be taught in all schools from September.

Functional Skills provides students with practical skills for the workplace and higher education. Tasks such as writing a successful job application and communicating effectively with customers and employers are included, giving pupils practical experience of everyday situations to help them become independent and successful adults.

The qualification, which was first piloted in September 2007, has had more than 200,000 pupils sitting the exam. Feedback from students has been that the qualification is challenging, and teachers have welcomed the move to develop essential life skills in all pupils, regardless of their social background or future career choices.

Iain Wright, minister for 14-19 Education, said today:

"Skills that were once only needed in highly specified professions are now basic requirements. It’s no longer simply quantum physicists and accountants who need maths skills; it’s now car mechanics, TV camera operators and football coaches. Tools that were once only in the minds of scientists are now in the hands of all professionals. Computers are all around us – affecting everything we do from the way that we manufacture goods, to the way we cook dinner or listen to music."

Amargit Basi, principle of Walsall College, highlighted the benefits vocational qualifications are bringing to his pupils:

He said: "Walsall College is passionate about vocational qualifications. One of the college's core aims in to make all our students ready for the workplace. We recognise the importance of working closely with employers to prepare our learners for the workplace and believe that functional skills are the right way to do this."

Sylvia McNamara, QCDA Executive Director said:

"We have had an excellent response from all involved in the pilot process. The qualification has been designed with the involvement and backing of employers. They are now part of every Diploma qualification, every foundation learning programme, every apprenticeship and will be part of the new GCSEs from September.  Underpinning all of this is the inclusion of functional skills within the new secondary curriculum, from 11 to 16."

Functional skills will be introduced into every school this September.  To find out more, visit the functional skills section of the QCDA website:

Notes to editors

For further information pleas contact Antony Cash at the QCDA press office on 0300 3030 3017 or email

About QDCA (

QCDA is the government agency for the development of curriculum, delivery of assessments and reform of qualifications. We work with the education, skills and business communities to develop effective and innovative ways to help children and adults to progress, achieve their full potential and to demonstrate that achievement to others.

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