The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) groups skilled occupations which have related requirements for technical knowledge and practical skills into 15 routes and represents them on occupational maps. For most occupations on the maps, there is an employer designed standard which sets out all the knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs) required to become fully competent.


1. Cycle 1 qualification categories

The qualification categories in scope for Cycle 1 are:


2. Cycle 1 timeline

The main submission window for applications will be between 13 and 24 November. We encourage applicants to book support sessions prior to submitting their application.
Firstly, we ask applicants to complete the Registration Form with the details of the technical qualifications that they intend to submit in the approvals cycle. This enables IfATE to manage applications as efficiently as possible, design tailored support sessions and provide further clarity and guidance, as requested. The deadline for completing this form is 5 June 2023.

To prepare for submission of the level 2 occupational entry technical qualifications, we recommend that applicants begin aligning their qualification to the relevant standard’s KSBs and review their qualification’s content and assessment to ensure it is in the best position to be approved.


3. Cycle 1 occupational standards in scope

For cycle 1 of the approval of level 2 technical qualifications, all level 2 standards in the following routes are in scope. 

  • Engineering and Manufacturing
  • Construction and the Built Environment
  • Health and Science
  • Education and Early Years

Our occupational standards contain the knowledge, skills and behaviours identified by employers as required to competently perform an occupation. To ensure occupational standards remain current, they are regularly reviewed and revised against the needs of employers. Therefore, some of the standards in scope may have recently been reviewed or revised; others will need to undergo a review and may have revisions applied in the future.

You can find details of standards currently being revised and route reviews on the website.

Where an occupational standard is revised post-qualification approval, we aim to allow awarding bodies the flexibility to apply any changes using their own internal change process; without the need to resubmit materials for re-approval. This flexibility will be provided for revisions which take place to standards within one year of IfATE's qualification approval decision. Where a standard has undergone significant change, we may request that awarding bodies submit to our formal change process. This will be decided on a case-by-case basis and IfATE will work with awarding bodies to make suitable arrangements for the re-approval of qualification materials. If you have any queries about the occupational standards in relation the level 2 approval process, please email us.

Applicants can access the updated list of occupational standards in scope for cycle 1 of the level 2 technical qualifications approvals process. This list supersedes the provisional list published on the IfATE website in March 2023. Please note that further standards may be added to this list if they are currently in the process of being revised; for example, if a standard’s levelling is revised to be at level 2. 


4. Predefined specialist areas and duties

Additional specialist qualifications build on occupational standards and enable an individual to specialise within an occupation, usually building on prior achievement of competence in the core occupational outcomes. These qualifications will be either: 

  • developed by awarding bodies, based on our predefined specialist areas and associated duties published by IfATE
  • developed by awarding bodies, following submissions via our proposal stage submission process. 

Awarding bodies can submit qualifications for approval against predefined areas without the need to first submit a proposal. The predefined areas and duties below are in scope for development of level 2 additional specialist qualifications in cycle 1. These are draft duties, based on existing qualification provision, and we are currently seeking validation through an external survey and feedback from internal teams at IfATE. If changes are required to the duties, we will aim to publish these by the end of May 2023.  

We have suggested a link to the occupational standard on which each area builds; however, awarding bodies can also determine appropriate links between specialist duties and occupational standards, based on their own sector-specific knowledge.

Specialist areas above may also contain sub-areas. When recording the duties associated with our predefined areas, we will ensure it is clear where a duty applies to a sub area; for example:


Specialist area: fitness instructing

Sub areas:  

Instructing kettlebells

Example indicative duties

  • identifies health and safety issues specific to kettlebell training
  • identifies different classes/training in which kettlebells can be integrated 


Instructing physical activity for children

Example indicative duties

  • explains the benefits of physical activity and health risks of inactivity for children
  • follows current physical activity guidelines for children

The predefined list intends to guide awarding bodies to develop additional specialist qualifications for submission through IfATE’s qualification approval process. It is important to note that when developing a qualification within an area specified within the list, we do not mandate that awarding bodies include all indicative duties within their qualification. Awarding bodies may wish to target more or fewer duties than those specified by IfATE when developing their offer. Awarding bodies should also explain their inclusion of sub-areas and duties outside of those specified by IfATE and will be expected to include this rationale as part of their full qualification submission. 

Whilst our predefined list covers areas in which we may expect submissions, we anticipate that awarding bodies will also consider developing qualifications in areas not identified within the published list. We have, therefore, introduced a proposal stage process so that awarding bodies can flexibly set out intended developments in areas outside of the predefined list. 


5. What is the proposal stage and why is it needed?

We recognise the need for flexibility in the technical education landscape, to allow awarding bodies to be responsive to the market and submit qualifications which deliver against emerging skills needs, offering specialist competence in areas that are demanded by employers. These may be existing or new qualifications that build on and go beyond the competencies in our occupational standards.

The proposal stage allows IfATE to have advanced sight of an overview and rationale for the intended additional specialist qualification(s). Through it, IfATE will consider the proposal(s) and provide recommendations to awarding bodies on subjects such as the duties they intend to target within their proposed offer.

Awarding bodies should also include in their registration of interest any additional specialist qualifications for which they intend to submit a proposal


6. Level 2 technical qualifications requiring a proposal stage

For Cycle 1, the proposal stage only relates to additional specialist qualifications that are not based on duties published in the predefined list. For these qualifications, IfATE requires a proposal form to be submitted.

A proposal will not be required if the qualification aligns to a published predefined area.


7. When is a proposal submission not needed?

Awarding bodies do not have to submit a proposal for Occupational entry qualifications, because they are based on established KSBs with which IfATE is already familiar. A proposal will also not be required if the qualification aligns to a published predefined area.


8. What will awarding bodies be expected to submit as part of the proposal?

Awarding bodies are not required to develop a suite of qualification materials to submit as part of the proposal, and no regulation and recognition requirements will apply at this stage.  

Awarding bodies will be expected  to submit a proposal form, providing details of the intended additional specialist qualification(s). The below list indicates the types of information IfATE will likely collect through our proposal form:

  • proposed specialist area including Intended qualification title and level
  • intended size of the qualification (guided learning hours)
  • occupational route 
  • relevant occupational standard which the qualification seeks to build on
  • proposed list of duties that will be used to develop the qualification content
  • defined specialist job roles an individual could undertake upon completion of the additional specialist qualification
  • evidence to indicate employer demand for the specialist competency within the labour market
  • whether the qualification is a requirement for statutory or professional body recognition within the occupation

We expect awarding bodies to have engaged with the published additional specialist criteria to inform their development planning, prior to submitting a proposal(s). We also encourage awarding bodies to undertake early engagement within their employer network and use our published ‘maximising employer engagement’ guidance to inform and support their proposals.


9. How will IfATE use information from the proposal submission to make recommendations to awarding bodies?

IfATE officials will undertake a review of each submitted proposal, including a series of internal, and where appropriate, external checks. These will include checks against the criteria for additional specialist qualifications, review of the intended duties, as well as a review of rationale and/or evidence provided to support the need for the specialist competency within the skills system.

On completion, IfATE will then make recommendations to awarding bodies. Any recommendations provided by IfATE are not an approval decision and are, therefore, non-binding. Following receipt of our recommendations, we expect awarding bodies to make their own decisions to proceed (or not proceed) with the development of their proposed qualification.

Recommendations to awarding bodies may include comments on:

  • the fit of the intended qualification within the route and the need for the qualification(s)
  • the duties proposed for the intended qualification(s) and, where appropriate, suggestions for additional duties

Where awarding bodies proceed to develop and submit a qualification through our approvals process, any appropriate rationale or evidence submitted as part of the proposal submission can also be considered within the full submission.


10. What are the timelines for the proposal stage?

The proposal form will be live on 19 June 2023 and the submission window for proposals will be open until 30 June 2023. IfATE will review proposals and will seek to provide feedback by the end of August 2023, in readiness for the main submission window, which is between 13 and 24 November 2023.

Last updated 9 November 2023
(KA, NS)