What do qualifications levels equate to?
The analysis in Almanac Online classifies qualifications into the five levels set out below.
Level 1: GCSEs, O-Levels or equivalent at grades D-G; National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) Level 1; Business Training and Education Council (BTEC) first or general certificate; General National Vocational Qualification (GNVQ) foundation level; Royal Society of Arts (RSA); and SCOTVEC modules
Level 2: Five or more GCSEs, O-Levels or equivalent at grades A*-C; NVQ Level 2; BTEC first or general diploma; GNVQ intermediate level; City and Guilds Craft; RSA diploma; and BTEC, SCOTVEC first or general diploma
Level 3: Two or more A-Levels or equivalent; NVQ Level 3; BTEC National; Ordinary National Diploma (OND); Ordinary National Certificate (ONC); City and Guilds Advanced Craft; and three or more Scottish highers
Level 4: First or other degree; NVQ Level 4; Higher National Diploma (HND); Higher National Certificate (HNC); and higher education diploma; nursing; teaching (including further education, secondary, primary and others)
Level 5: Higher degree; Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.); and NVQ Level 5
These levels can be further classified into low skills (no qualifications and Level 1); intermediate skills (Level 2 and 3) and high skills(Level 4 and above). This ‘common currency’ allows comparisons across sub-groups of the population, time and, to a certain extent, between countries. There is some debate at an international level: Level 2 can be classified as either low or intermediate level.
Note that the current National Qualifications Framework now classifies qualifications in a different manner; qualifications are classified to nine levels (Entry level to level 8). There is no difference in this nine level qualifications mapping up to and including level 3. Beyond level 3, qualifications classified under levels 4 and 5 (see above), are expanded out across levels 4-8.
Note(s) : 1 See http://www.ofqual.gov.uk/52.aspx
Source(s) : Adapted from Leitch Interim Report, Box 2.1.