What are functional skills?

English and maths skills are an essential part of any apprenticeship course of study. These subjects can be developed through Functional Skills which are recognised as a direct equivalent to a traditional GCSE qualification. 

Individuals who wish to be considered for an apprenticeship will need to complete functional skills in English and maths. If these qualifications have not already been gained or proof or these qualifications cannot be obtained. 

Developing English and maths skills as part of the curriculum is important. It means that young people and adults entering HE are more able to immediately focus on their course and cope with what comes their way.

I don't have functional skill qualifications, how can I get them?

Functional skills can be studied through several partner organisations that Mersey Care works with to assist individual to gain the relevant qualification to progress through or onto an apprenticeship programme. 

These courses are usually free of charge to colleagues within the Trust who wish to progress onto further study through the apprenticeships.

There are several apprenticeships that require functionals skills to be in place prior to commencement on a course.

  • All non-integrated and Integrated Undergraduate and Post graduate Degree Level Apprenticeships (Level 5 – 7)  

To ensure that widening participation can take place within apprenticeships lower-level courses usually allow individuals to complete function skills maths and English while on Programme. 

  • Entry and intermediate Apprenticeships (Levels 2-4) *This is subject to provider approval and is subject to change based on course delivery method and course content*.

Resources and training



If you are looking to improve your maths skills or prepare for a functional skills exam, you can sign up the National Numeracy Challenge which will give access to lots of free resources that will help you.  The National Numeracy Challenge is an a free online learning tool that will help you to improve your everyday maths skills in easy manageable steps. https://www.nationalnumeracy.org.uk/challenge/

Once weekly remote delivery one hour maths and one hour English. 

Options are available to attend both subjects one day (subject to provider resource availability).


  1. Complete a CPD Application Form and submit electronically for approval.
    • When completing the CPD Application form please ignore the course lenght and provider.  The apprenticeship team will complete this on your behalf.  
    • The Form will also ask for a date, please enter the 1st of the following month from you application.  This will not be your start date as this will be dictated by the provider.  Inorder for the for to submit a date is required.  
  2. Once a CPD application is approved by your manager you will be contacted by the apprenticeship team to complete a provider enrolment form apprenticeships@merseycare.nhs.uk 
  3. Referrals for the courses are made monthly to the provider once sufficient numbers are in place for a cohort, enrolements will start.  
  4. Once referral forms have been sent by the trust to the provider  The provider will contact applicants directly and arrange for initial assessment, confirmation of course level and start date.

For any further information about Functional Skills please visit the Learning and Development Prospectus or contact: apprenticeships@merseycare.nhs.uk