Steps to Work Award SCQF level 2, 3 and 4

The Steps to Work Award fills a gap in the education of vulnerable, disengaged and hard to reach young people. Available at SCQF levels 2, 3 and 4, it provides a stepping stone for learners between school, further education, training and employment.

The Award aims to develop self-esteem, self-awareness and self-confidence. Learners are encouraged to engage in learning by focusing on an area that interests them. Through practical activities, Learners can develop employability skills and self awareness to help them recognise their own strengths and the contribution they can make to society. This qualification is available in schools and colleges.

Features of the award

  • Flexible in size and structure.
  • Capable of capturing achievement in smaller chunks of learning.
  • There is no Course assessment - assessment focuses on the Units.
  • The Award is ungraded
  • To achieve the Award, learners must successfully complete a minimum of one credit from each of two sections.
  • Achievement is recognised - the Award appears on the Scottish Qualifications Certificate.
  • Skills and knowledge can be developed through experience and activity.
  • Centres can choose activities and methods of delivery that suit the needs of their learners
  • Allows personalisation and choice

Within the Steps to Work Awards there is a wide range of Units to choose from. This gives centres the flexibility to develop a programme that best suits the needs and interests of their learners.

The Step to Work Award is flexible in size and structure to maximize personalisation and choice. This allows centres to choose activities and delivery methods which best suit their circumstances and candidates.

In this Course, skills and knowledge are developed through experience and activity and assessment focuses on the Units, with no overall course assessment. The Award is ungraded and there is no external assessment.

Achievement of this qualification is nationally recognised

The Steps to Work Award is designed to help vulnerable disengaged and hard to reach learners. The flexible nature of the Award also makes it suitable for a wide range of candidates from different educational settings such as schools, colleges, educational training providers, the community or the voluntary sector.


Entry is at the discretion of the centre.

Centres with devolved authority are eligible to seek approval through their own internal approval process.

Centres without devolved authority will have to come forward for approval and should contact the Business Development Team for guidance in completing the combined CA1/SA1 form.

Assessors and verifiers must be able to meet SQA's general requirements as outlined in the guide to approval.

SCQF level 2 - GD2X 42

SCQF level 3 — G9P0 43 (12 SCQF credit points)

SCQF level 4 — G9RW 44 (12 SCQF credit points)

Whether a learner achieves at SCQF level 3 or SCQF level 4 depends on: the amount of support they receive; their level of participation; their level of understanding; the complexity of tasks carried out; and the level of maturity displayed.

Many of the Units within the Award have an Assessment Support Pack (ASP). These are available to download via SQA's secure website.

Whether a learner achieves at SCQF level 3 or SCQF level 4 depends on: the amount of support they receive; their level of participation; their level of understanding; the complexity of tasks carried out, and the level of maturity displayed.

Many of the Units within the Award have an Assessment Support Pack or National Assessment Bank item. These are available to SQA Co-ordinators via SQA's secure website.

Impact Arts logo

Tamara Derrick tells us of her experience at Impact Arts and gaining her SQA Steps to Work Award.  

Why did you choose to do the SQA Steps to Work award at Impact Arts?

I love art and I wanted to do something creative, so this was a good choice for me. It meant I could work towards a qualification but also do the things I enjoy.

What did you enjoy about the course?

I really enjoyed the problem solving, practical abilities and working with others while gaining this award. I liked the fact that my skills and knowledge were developed through practical experience.  What really worked for me was that the award was split up into achievable course units and you were assessed on an ongoing basis with no final course assessment.

What skills and experience did you gain?

I have gained a lot of skills and experience whilst achieving this SQA award including communication, working with others, active listening, teamwork, confidence and IT skills. I have learned a lot and it has given me more opportunities to find employment or work towards other qualifications.

Has taking part in the award opened up new opportunities?

I enjoyed taking part in this award with Impact Arts as I got to learn more art skills that I didn’t have before as well as meeting lots of new people. I have applied for a job with Impact Arts so I can say that this award has definitely opened up new opportunities for me to get the career I’ve always wanted.

Do you have any advice for other students wishing to study an SQA Award at Impact Arts?

If you are creative or would like to be more creative this course is for you. You will learn a lot of new skills and meet new people. It is really fun and is worth trying if you are looking at a job in the creative industry as you learn a lot about all the different creative careers that you could apply for.

Venture Trust logo

Kayleigh Tuohy shares her experience on achieving her SQA Personal Development Award at SCQF Level 4 as part of the Venture Trust Change Cycle Employability Programme.

The employability programme that I undertook was specifically designed for young people in Scotland aged 16-24 who are not in work, education, or training, facing long term unemployment. The programme supports participants to build aspiration, motivation and self-confidence while developing key employability skills.

What attracted you to the course at the venture trust?

I wanted to work on a qualification that would help me work towards gaining employment. As part of the Change Cycle Employability Programme, you work towards an SQA Personal Development Award which covered subject areas that I was interested in.  I liked the fact that this course would teach me the skills to help me become more independent and improve areas where I feel I needed work like self-reliance and self-confidence.

Why did you choose the Venture Trust to gain your award?  

It was recommended by my support worker, and I had also heard of positive reviews about Venture Trust and the good work that they do. They offered the SQA Personal Development Award which is a recognised qualification that I could add to my CV. I also felt that this award would benefit me and allow me to grow and reflect as a person.

What did you enjoy about taking part in the award?

I enjoyed learning new things and meeting the people I was doing the award with. I also enjoyed learning valuable skills like CV writing which has helped with applying and reaching out to new opportunities. Participating in this award also helped my communication and interpersonal skills which has been very useful in my day-to-day life.

How has this award benefited you?

It has helped me when speaking in groups and speaking with new people. I am definitely more confident now.

Overall experience and future plans

This award helped me learn more about myself and understand my skill set. I now feel at the stage where I can go back into work as my confidence level is right for this. I am now applying for jobs which I was not in a position to before.

Any Advice for future participants?

I would recommend this course to anyone who needs a boost and wants to learn more about themselves. It is a great qualification to help people realise their potential and gain new knowledge and skills.