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Essential Digital Skills qualifications (EDSQs) are now available and will be automatically funded for adults who don’t have the basic digital skills that are typically required for life and work.

Sign up to one of our introductory webinars to see the online assessment platform, or get in touch if you are ready to begin delivery of the qualifications.

Sign up for an EDSQ webinar now

Enquire about running EDSQ

“Essential Digital Skills qualifications are a positive step forward in giving our residents the skills they need to access jobs. We wouldn’t have been able to offer them so quickly to our learners without the outstanding support we have received from Gateway Qualifications.”

Westminster Adult Education Service

View our qualifications

Resources to support your delivery of EDSQ

Qualification Specification

Sample Assessments

Diagnostic Tools

Guidance on using our external assessment platform, Surpass

Further guidance available for centres approved to deliver our EDSQs

  • Centre Guide
  • Standardisation Materials
  • Mock Assessments
  • Mock Assessment Mark Schemes

Why Essential Digital Skills qualifications are needed

It is estimated that one in five adults lack foundation skills in digital technology. To fill this gap, the Department for Education is introducing digital skills qualifications based on the essential digital skills framework. These qualifications are designed for adults, and will be available from September 2020.

A 2018 report found that:

  • 11.3 million people (21%) lack the full basic digital skills
  • 4.3 million (8%) have no basic digital skills at all
  • 5.4 million working adults (10%) are without basic digital skills
  • People with a registered disability are 4 times as likely to be offline
  • 28% of those aged 60+ are offline

The qualifications are based on the national standards (created in April 2019), and will be aimed at adults aged 19+. The qualifications are intended to support adults who want to join the digital world by learning digital skills for life, their work or for use in further study.

The Essential Digital Skills standards are:

  • Using devices and handling information (includes how to store information)
  • Creating and editing
  • Communicating online (such as via Social Media)
  • Transacting (buying) online activities
  • Being responsible, safe and legal online

When we started talking to providers about Essential Digital Skills, we found that these standards weren’t well understood, so we turned the DfE’s information into a handy infographic, which explains the five skill areas covered by the standards.

For a handy guide to the standards, download our infographic here

EDSQ Webinars

An Introduction to our Essential Digital Skills Qualifications. 

Sign up for one of our launch webinars to learn more about these new qualifications, see our online assessments, and to find out what you need to do to be ready to teach them from 1st August 2020.

Sign up for a launch webinar now






Essential Digital Skills Support and Resources

Discover the wealth of resources available to help you prepare and deliver EDSQ.

Sign up here






Delivering and Assessing Gateway Qualifications Essential Digital Skills Qualifications

Training session exclusive to centres approved to deliver our Essential Digital Skills qualifications. For more information, please call your Business Development Team contact.

Did you know?

Gateway Qualifications is the first Awarding Organisation to complete Ofqual’s technical evaluation and to be able to make EDSQs available to Centres.

Gateway Qualifications first awarding organisation to receive green light for EDSQ

Essential Digital Skills FAQs
What devices can I use to teach?

You can use any device to teach Essential Digital Skills as we have designed the qualification content to be applicable to desktops, laptops, tablets and phones. Your teaching should cover a range of devices that are relevant to the learners.

Learners can take the assessment on any device as long as there is a good internet connection. However, we would recommend that the assessment is taken on a device with a larger screen and learners may find it easier to have a physical (rather than on-screen) keyboard. They may also find it easier to complete assessment tasks on a desktop or laptop than a tablet.

Do the qualifications cover the skills needed for work or for life?

Both – the qualifications have been developed in consultation with our centres and cover a wide range of contexts that will be suitable for learners who choose to go onto further study, into the workplace or for life skills. Whilst both levels contain a mix of contexts, the Entry Level 3 qualification has a greater focus on skills for life whilst in the Level 1 there is a balance between skills for life and skills for work.

What age are the qualifications for?

The qualifications are for learners aged 19+ years.

Do we need Microsoft Office software?

No – as part of the assessment the learners will be required to produce and upload documents, such as leaflets and spreadsheets with graphs, however this can be done in any suitable software.

Are there assessment windows?

No – the assessments are available on demand.

Please refer to the Essential Digital Skills Guide for Centres for information on the conduct of assessment.

We have learners that are Entry 1 and Entry 2 is this suitable for them?

Essential Digital Skills qualifications are only available at Entry 3 and Level 1 as Entry 1 and Entry 2 are subsumed within Entry 3. Learners operating at Entry 1 or Entry 2 may be able to access the Entry 3 qualification depending on their initial starting point. However, where they need more time to reach the standard for Entry 3 you may find our Digital Skills for Life and Digital Skills for Work qualifications helpful. These qualifications are designed around the Essential Digital Skills standards so can be used as an entry route into Essential Digital Skills.

What content does the qualification cover?

The course content meets the national standards for Essential Digital Skills and focuses on five key areas including:

  • Using devices and handling information
  • Communicating
  • Being safe and responsible online
  • Creating and editing
  • Transacting online
How long will it take to complete the qualification?

We have assigned 45 GLH to each of the qualifications.

Which courses can learners progress to after completing EDSQ?

The Essential Digital Skills qualifications are designed to give learners the skills that are required in modern life and work. On completion of the Entry 3 qualification learners could progress to the Level 1.  Learners who complete the Level 1 could progress to a variety of digital skills programmes that include a variety of different topics.

Further information about qualifications available from Gateway Qualifications is available in our digital qualifications section.

How will the qualification be assessed?

The qualification will be assessed using an online platform. There is one timed assessment at each level.

What are the benefits of doing this qualification and what can it be used for?

The qualification provides learners with the essential digital skills which are needed in a wide range of situations in life and at work. For example, successful learners will be able to make appointments, order goods and services, organise payments using online platforms, conduct video calls, create, edit and save a range of documents, and troubleshoot basic problems on their device.

When will Essential Digital Skills Qualifications (EDSQ) start?

The qualifications will be available from August 1st.  They will be fundable under a new legal entitlement for adults with assessments available from September 2020.

What level of digital skills will students require before starting the course?

The qualification is designed for students with little or no digital skills and there are no formal entry requirements.

It is, however, useful for learners to be able to turn on and control a device, connect it to the internet and open browsers and applications.

Our Entry Level Digital Skills for Life and Digital Skills for Work can be used to cover these skills before starting Essential Digital Skills if required.

Do you offer a pre-assessment tool?

Yes, we offer a simple pre-assessment tool which is available here.

The Good Things Foundation also offers a planner tool which was created in line with the national standards for Essential Digital Skills. More information can be found on the Good Things Foundation website.

When can I expect to receive my EDSQ results?

Gateway Qualifications will hold awarding meetings for each new EDSQ paper. These meetings will take place as soon as there are sufficient learner numbers to issue a reliable and valid outcome. We will issue results and certificates to candidates who have sat the paper prior to this date as soon as possible following the meeting. For subsequent candidates we will issue results within 5 working days of successfully verified results.

What are the minimum requirements for the assessment software?

Our Essential Digital Skills assessments use Surpass HTML Delivery which allows the assessment to run in an internet browser. Full details of the technical requirements and supported browsers are available on our Online Assessment – System and Hardware Requirements page.

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If you would like to teach our qualifications to your learners, submit an enquiry to discuss the best options.

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