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 occupational standard which sets out all the knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs) required to become fully competent.


1. Cycle 2 qualification categories

The qualification categories in scope for Cycle 2 are: 

  • Level 2 occupational entry technical qualifications for 16-19 and adults 
  • Level 2 additional specialist technical qualifications for 16-19 and adults 
  • Level 2 employer-proposed technical qualifications for adults only 


2. Cycle 2 timeline

The submission window for applications for level 2 qualifications will be between 23 September and 04 October 2024. We encourage applicants to book support sessions prior to submitting their application.  

Prior to submission, 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 registration of intent window will open on the 19 February and close on the 23 February 2024.

To prepare for submitting 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. 

To prepare for submitting level 2 qualifications in the additional specialist and employer-proposed categories, we recommend that applicants review the relevant published criteria. For submission into these categories of qualification we will require a qualification proposal to be submitted, and further details for this process can be found below, from section 4 onward.  


3. Cycle 2 occupational standards in scope

For cycle 2 of the approval of level 2 technical qualifications, in line with DfE’s a guide to post-16 qualifications at level 3 and below in England, all level 2 standards in the following routes are in scope.  

  • Agriculture, environmental and animal care  
  • Business and administration  
  • Care services  
  • Catering and hospitality  
  • Construction and the built environment  
  • Creative and design  
  • Education and early years  
  • Engineering and manufacturing  
  • Hair and beauty  
  • Health and science  
  • Legal, finance and accounting  
  • Protective services  
  • Sales, marketing, and procurement  
  • Transport and logistics  

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 employers’ needs. 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 IfATE’s 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 apply to standards that are revised 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 2 of the level 2 technical qualifications approvals process.  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 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 predefined specialist areas, and associated duties published by IfATE, or 
  • 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.  


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

We recognise the need for flexibility in the technical education landscape, to allow awarding bodies to respond to the market and submit qualifications which deliver against emerging skills needs, offering specialist and cross-cutting functional 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. Please visit our categories and criteria page for information. 

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

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


6. Level 2 technical qualifications requiring a qualification proposal stage

For Cycle 2, the qualification proposal stage only relates to additional specialist or employer-proposed qualifications that are not based on duties published in IfATE's predefined list.  

There is no predefined list for the employer-proposed category. All awarding bodies must first submit a proposal. IfATE will use this information to give feedback on suitability for the category.

As the process of agreeing an occupation proposal and developing a standard does not have a set timeline, IfATE will liaise with applicants throughout this process to establish the most appropriate point to take receipt of any qualification offer for approval purposes. 

Where a standard is developed, we will not take receipt of the qualification in the employer-proposed category. Instead, approval would take place in an occupational entry category against the approved standard, once published. 

Only where IfATE recognise an occupation on our maps but are not in the process of developing a relevant standard, will a qualification be considered in the employer-proposed category.  


7. When is a qualification proposal submission not needed?

Occupational entry qualifications, or those being submitted against a predefined area, will not require a qualification proposal.


8. What will awarding bodies be expected to submit as part of the qualification 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. However, awarding bodies will need to check whether they have the scope of recognition in place to deliver qualification and should contact Ofqual if they need to apply to expand their scope of recognition.     

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

Additional specialist: 

  • proposed specialist area including Intended qualification title and level. Please see titling requirements 
  • qualification aims/purpose (in alignment the additional specialist category purpose, please see category information)  
  • intended size of the qualification (guided learning hours (GLH) and total qualification time (TQT)) 
  • occupational route that the qualification sits within 
  • relevant occupational standard(s) which the qualification seeks to build on 
  • proposed list of duties that will be used to develop the qualification content, so that an individual who achieved the qualification would be able to perform those duties within a workplace (please see our pre-recorded webinar on developing duties) 
  • inclusion of any pre-existing knowledge, skills, and behaviours from the linked or built upon standard with supporting rationale   
  • rationale for the need/demand of additional specialist qualification(s), including:  
  • a clear understanding of the industry area  
  • the approach to be taken by the awarding body, including an explanation as to how their understanding of industry informed the approach 
  • how the proposed duties build upon the outcomes set out in the associated occupational standard(s), enabling the learner to perform a specialist role within a specific occupational setting  
  • whether the qualification is a requirement for statutory or professional body recognition within the occupation 


  • the occupation in which the qualification would provide competence
  • proposed area, including intended qualification title and level  
  • qualification aims/purpose 
  • intended size of the qualification (GLH and TQT)  
  • occupational route that the qualification sits within 
  • potential job roles an individual could undertake upon completion of the proposed qualification 
  • rationale for the need of employer-proposed qualification including:  
  • a clear understanding of the industry area 
  • the approach to be taken by the awarding body, including an explanation as to how their understanding of industry informed the approach 
  • whether the qualification may be a requirement for statutory or professional body recognition within the occupation 

Qualification proposals for the cross-cutting category will only apply in cycle 3 of the post-16 approvals process, and more details will follow in due course. 

Prior to submitting a proposal(s), we expect awarding bodies to have engaged with the published criteria to inform their development planning. 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 qualification proposal submission to make recomendations to awarding bodies?

IfATE officials will undertake a review of each submitted qualification proposal, including a series of internal and, where appropriate, external checks. These will include checks against the criteria for the relevant category, review of the intended duties and KSBs where appropriate, as well as a review of rationale and/or evidence provided to support the need for the proposed qualification. 

On completion, IfATE will then send feedback to awarding bodies. Any feedback provided by IfATE will not be an approval decision and will, therefore, be non-binding. Following receipt of our feedback, we expect awarding bodies to make their own decisions to proceed (or not proceed) with the development of their proposed qualification. There will also be an opportunity to have a follow up one-to-one session on the feedback provided. 

Feedback to awarding bodies may include comments on: 

  • appropriateness of the proposed qualification for the category, including the narrative to support the need/demand for the qualification 
  • quality/relevance of proposed duties 
  • the planned approach to seeking employer demand/need for the qualification 

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. Awarding bodies must resubmit this information as part of their full submission. 


10. What are the timelines for the qualification proposal stage?

The level 2, cycle 2 qualification proposal submission window will be open between 4 and 15 March 2024. IfATE will review all proposals and seek to provide feedback by the end of May 2024, in readiness for the main submission window, which is between 23 September and 4 October 2024

The qualification proposal form is now live.

An offline copy of the proposal form is available for reference only.

11. Cycle 3 information

Our approach to future cycles is in line with DfE’s a guide to post-16 qualifications at level 3 and below in England. Our cycle 3 submission window will open in summer 2025. Our current ambition is to accept qualification submissions for cross-cutting qualifications across all routes in the first cycle 3 submission window. We may also consider qualifications that meet DfE’s exception criteria.


12. Cycle 3 timeline

We will provide applicants with the timelines for cycle 3 as soon as possible, to give them maximum time to align their qualifications to available standards within the relevant routes.  

Support and resources are available to support applicants in making their applications.  


Published 9 November 2023
Last updated 19 March 2024
(SW, NS)