Number of VTQs Decline Throughout Pandemic

Join the UK's #1 IPGCE at Derby

The number of vocational and technical qualifications (VTQs) awarded in Northern Ireland declined by around 20% during the Covid pandemic.

This is according to a Department for the Economy (DfE) report.

There were just over 142,000 VTQs issued in 2020-21, down from almost 178,000 in 2018-19.

Like GCSEs, AS and A-Levels, many exams and assessments in VTQs were cancelled in 2020 and 2021. This meant that schools and colleges calculated their students’ grades in BTECs and other VTQs.

The DfE report notes that the decline in VTQs is likely to have been influenced by the pandemic, but it is impossible to say how much of the decrease can be attributed to this.

Despite the overall decline, some qualifications saw an increase in the number of awards. These included construction and engineering VTQs, which rose by 8.6% from 2019-20 to 2020-21.

The report highlights the importance of vocational and technical qualifications, stating that they “play a vital role in supporting individuals to progress into employment and drive up productivity”.

Join the UK's #1 IPGCE at Derby

It also says that the pandemic has “underlined the importance of having a skilled workforce” and that the government is committed to “increasing the number of people with high-quality skills”.


The report includes a range of recommendations for how the government can support the VTQ sector. These include:

– Providing targeted funding to help organisations deliver qualifications remotely

– Reviewing the qualifications system to make sure it meets the needs of employers and students

– Encouraging more young people to consider vocational and technical pathways.


The full report can be found on the DfE website.

The disruption the pandemic has caused to schools, colleges and universities are likely to have a long-term impact on the awarding of VTQs. The DfE report notes that this will need to be monitored in the coming years.

The CCEA, The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment, will continue to work with the DfE to support the delivery of high-quality vocational and technical qualifications in Northern Ireland.

In addition, the department will continue to provide targeted funding to help organisations deliver qualifications remotely. This will ensure that young people can access the high-quality vocational and technical education they need to progress into employment.

For more news on international education, follow us on IPGCE and WeChat.

Wechat Code: