Since August 2020 there has been a national entitlement to fully fund eligible adults aged 19+ who don’t have the basic digital skills that are typically required for life and work to undertake Essential Digital Skills qualifications (EDSQs).  EDSQ are also funded for 16-19-year-olds as part of a Study Programme.

Qualifications Available

Support for Centres approved for EDSQ

Browse our support for practitioners including free teaching resources, webinars and frequently asked questions to aid your delivery of EDSQ.

What do the qualifications cover?

Using digital devices and handling information

This skills area covers a basic understanding of hardware, software, operating systems and commonly used applications. Students will develop fundamental digital skills by learning how to manage and store information, and identify and solve simple technical issues.

Creating and editing

Students will first learn to create and edit documents before moving on to creating and editing other types of digital media, such as images, audio files and videos. Eventually, students will be taught to use applications to edit, enhance and format different types of information for a range of purposes and audiences.


The communication skills area requires students to demonstrate an understanding of electronic communications, such as email and video calls. Students will gain awareness and be able to use digital communication for a range of contexts and audiences.


This skills area involves the ability to complete and submit an online form, comply with digital verification checks, and purchase an item or service online. Eventually, students will learn to compare products against other available online options and manage their transactional account settings.

Being safe and responsible online

The final skills area is to understand the importance of digital wellbeing, students will learn about being responsible online. This will involve privacy and data protection, conducting best practice online behaviour, backing up data, and understanding the psychological health risks of online activity.

“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

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Why Essential Digital Skills qualifications are needed

“As an adult, you lose confidence in things when you aren’t using them regularly. To be honest, I was scared of breaking the computer but now I am more confident to try more things online and get back into work. I have really surprised myself!”
Learner Feedback, New City College


It is estimated that one in five adults lack foundation skills in digital technology and the Coronavirus pandemic has further highlighted the difficulties of accessing services online for those without confidence in their digital skills. To fill this gap, the Department for Education has introduced digital skills qualifications based on the essential digital skills framework.

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 for essential digital skills (created in April 2019) and are 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.

Gateway Qualifications was the first Awarding Organisation to make these qualifications available and has been offering them to Centres since September 2020.

Support for practitioners


We have prepared a selection of resources to support your delivery of Essential Digital Skills Qualifications (EDSQ), including a set of free teaching resources for approved Centres.

View our EDSQ Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

A dedicated page providing answers to the most common queries about our Essential Digital Skills qualifications.

Essential Digital Skills FAQs

Essential Digital Skills Standards

Download our handy infographic covering the Digital Skills Standards, or use this printable version.

Essential Digital Skills Infographic

Supporting Whitepapers

Supporting Learners’ Personal Development

Other digital qualifications

Digital Functional Skills

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Level 5 Diploma in Web Application Development

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Level 3 digital skills qualifications included in the National Skills Fund

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