Open ITQ

The ITQ logo


What is The Open ITQ?

The ITQ is the National Vocational Qualification for IT Users developed by e-skills, the Sector Skills Council for Business and Information Technology supported by the Awarding Organisations and employers in the IT sector. All ITQ qualifications are based on the National Occupational Standards that are the foundation of the ITQ units in the Qualifications Credit Framework (QCF). The QCF is in turn mapped to the European Qualifications Framework (EQF).  (click image on the right for an animated explanation of the QCF) The levels in the QCF are defined by broad level descriptors for all subjects. Subjects then provide more specific detail corresponding to the broad level descriptors. The Open ITQ is designed to support knowledge and understanding of Open Systems to enable all learners the prospect of gaining an ITQ qualification using technologies that are freely and legally available from the Internet. This then contributes to inclusion and bridging the "digital divide", particularly in economically disadvantaged countries. The qualifications are not technology specific and any functionally suitable applications can be used, the design simply ensures maximum choice and promotes understanding of why that choice is important.

ITQ qualifications fall into three categories. Awards, Certificates and Diplomas. For each type of qualification there are three main levels. Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3. Entry level qualifications are provided to support access to the level 1 qualifications by those currently not at a high enough level or lacking the confidence to start at Level 1. This is then inclusive of those who might not otherwise be able to gain a qualification and is consistent with the government's foundation learning tier strategy. The qualifications are designed to support progress that includes learners with special educational needs and educational disadvantage so that they can access mainstream qualifications. They are not specific to age  and what matters is: Can the individual meet the standards? Not how old are they or any other personal attributes.

TLM's Entry level and ITQ qualifications are named as follows:

  • Entry level 1 award for IT Users (ITQ)
  • Entry level 2 award for IT Users (ITQ)
  • Entry level 3 award for IT user (ITQ)
  • Level 1 Certificate in Open IT User Systems (ITQ) (13C) (13C denotes 13 credits, the size value of the qualification)
  • Level 2 Certificate in Open IT User Systems (ITQ) (16C)
  • Level 2 Diploma in Open IT User Systems (ITQ) (37C)

These qualifications are all part of the INGOT family and carry the INGOT brand logo signifying a commitment to open systems and international community support. They all use the INGOT assessment methods of criteria matching with supporting evidence from e-portfolios.


The Entry Level Awards are designed to lower barriers to take up of formal qualifications starting with a 2 Credit Award at Entry Level 1.  This provides direct progression into the 4 credit award at Entry Level 2 and then the 6 credit Award at Entry 3. These three qualifications provide a coherent progression pathway from the lowest levels of education, irrespective of age, in order to access the 13 Credit Level 1 Certificate. They prepare the candidates for the ITQ and the IT Diploma and similar progression routes to Level 2 consistent with the Foundation Learing Tier strategy.  A fundamental aspect is in preparing learners for applied leaning through participation in communitiy production of digital resources and services in the style of Web 2.0. This is a requirement highlighted by the Open Source Consortium of small businesses as of value in preparing learners for work in the technology sector both as IT users and IT professionals.


The Level 1 certificate consists of 3 mandatory units and further optional units of at least 4 credits. The first unit is the mandatory ITQ unit, IPU: Improving productivity using IT (3 credits). The second unit is the ITQ unit WS: Website Software (3 credits). The third unit is the ITQ unit UCT: Using collaborative technologies (3 credits).  An optional unit(s) of 4 credits or more can be chosen from any of the remaining ITQ units or equivalent sector specific units (13 credits, 90 GLH)

The Level 2 certificate consists of 3 mandatory units and one optional unit of at least 3 credits. The first unit is the mandatory ITQ unit, IPU: Improving productivity using IT (4 credits). The second unit is the ITQ unit WS: Website Software (4 credits). The third unit is the ITQ unit IT security for users at Level 1. (1 credit). The fourth unit is the ITQ unit Using collaborative technologies (4 credits). An optional unit of 3 credits or more can be chosen from any of the remaining ITQ units at level 1 or above or the Unit PMC: Programming, modelling and the community (3 credits). (16 credits, 120 GLH)


If the total credit value of a certificate reaches 37, the qualification becomes the ITQ Diploma. A diploma can be achieved by adding further units to the level 2 certificate.

The Level 3 qualifications have yet to be decided.


The ITQ is part of the Qualifications Credit Framework (QCF) which is mapped to the European Qualifications Framework (EQF). Units in the QCF have a credit value (10 hours of work) and this value determines how much content there is in the syllabus of the unit at a particular level. The idea of the EQF is that units and qualifications can be quantified so as to give transferrable credit to learners in any EU member state. Since each country already has its own methods of valuing qualifications, the EQF is a metaframework against which compatible national qualifications are referenced.  This enables a wide variety of national qualifications systems to be brought together so that employers have a better understanding of the value of the qualifications that are being brought to their businesses without compromising cultural and national distinctiveness.  The table linked here provides


TLM's ITQ qualifications have been carefully planned to support progression using the INGOT assessment model combined with the QCF and EQF. A certain amount of credit can be carried forward eg Level 1 units achieved as part of a Level 1 qualification can subsequently count towards a level 2 or level 3 qualification. This is because a minority of units in any level ITQ qualification can be at a lower level than the overall qualification. In addition, breadth of knowledge and capability can be extended by adding units to an Award to make a certificate and for converting a certificate into a Diploma. By starting with the lowest level (Entry 1) with a small sized certificate and providing pathways to higher levels and increased breadth we can match personal needs both through unit progression in terms of difficulty and breadth of study by increasing the number of units. A natural progression route might be

Entry 1 Award

Entry 2 Award

Entry 3 Award

Level 1 Certificate

Level 2 Certificate ----> Level 2 Diploma

Level 3 Awards, Certificates and Diplomas.

Since qualification units are also additional learning units for 14-19 Diplomas  we have a single suite of qualifications that provides a coherent spine for core learning for IT Users and progression with the flexibility to branch into other subjects and lines of learning at any point.