Compare Qualifications

Where we are now

Our initial idea and process

In mid 2020 we set out with the goal of creating an intuitive, easy to understand visual representation of any Ofqual registered qualification, to help learners, candidates, employers and members of the general public alike better understand the value and levels of difficulty and time commitment of qualifications – which resulted on what we now call “Qualimarks”.

After carefully analyzing the publicly available database of 40000+ Ofqual registered qualifications, we identified the following “key components” of any qualification:

Level

The complexity of level of the qualification, ranging from Entry level, to levels 1 through 8

Size

Meaning the time commitment, which is measured in Guided Learning Hours and/or Total Qualification Time

Type

We have identified many different types of qualifications, and for the sake of simplicity we have boiled them down to “Academic”, “Vocational” and “Life Skills”

Subject

What the qualification is about, although we currently are not putting our focus on this area as this is subjective and it’s a matter of the learner’s preference

Having identified the main characteristics which make up Ofqual registered qualifications, we got to work designing a visual representation that could easily and instinctively convey any qualification’s main attributes.

Meet the "Qualimark"!

We started by creating a circular canvas which houses 3 out of the 4 key components of a qualification we first identified: level, size (hours) and type.

Guided Learning Hours

The outer ring of the Qualimark displays a qualification Guided Learning Hours, from a scale of 0 to 2000 hours, and its “growth” intentionally slows down the bigger the number of hours is, as we believe this will be more representative of the qualifications’ size, as for example a jump from 70 to 120GLH is a 71% increase in time commitment, where as a jump from 1750 to 1800GLH would only be under a 3% increment. The actual number of Guided Learning Hours of a qualification can be seen on the small coloured circle.

Level and size

As we wanted the Qualimark to be bold and easy to understand, we purposefully limited the amount of information we included on the design, which brings us to the level (E for Entry – 1 through 8), being at the centre of the mark. Below the level number, we included the type which we simplified to one of three categories “academic”, “vocational and technical”, and “life skills”, which we have coloured blue, purple and green respectively, to help users differentiate qualifications at a glance. Last, on a small typography, we also include the size of the qualification, which is based upon the number of GLH – this ranges from Award, through Certificate and Diploma.

"Any colour you like"

Below, some examples of “typical” qualifications we have selected to represent the versatility and scalability of the Qualimark. Those with a green ring and yellow dial are “Life skills”, purple rings with orange dials are “Vocational and Technical” qualifications, and the blue and read are “Academic”, in the example below, the academic qualification would be the representation of an A-level, at 360GLH. This visual system also helps represent how the time commitment of a qualification is unrelated to its level, as for example a level 4 qualification can be taken as an award (40 hours), certificate (130 hours) or diploma (800 hours).

We believe this could greatly help educate the general public on the value of different qualifications, both to help them make the right career decision for themselves, as well as to avoid being misled when hiring.

Now, let's compare them!

The second part of our initial prototype was the development of a “typical” qualification comparison tool, “typical” meaning we don’t yet support searching through the 40000+ qualification Ofqual database, but we’ve boiled those down to around 50 “typical” qualification as a proof of concept.

The very first version of this tool is already live, and can be found here: https://comparequalifications.co.uk/compare
On its current iteration, this tool helps users to compare any of these typical qualifications to an A-level. Just search and click on any qualification to compare to an A-Level. See images below.

Where we are going next

Compare any qualification...

Having developed our prototype we realised there is a lot of room for improvement, growth and market expansion.

We believe the next big step for Compare Qualifications would be to support the searching and comparison of all 40000+ Ofqual regulated qualifications.  To start with, that is the platform we need to getting a wider spectre of learners and training providers using the website and embracing the Qualimark. However we see that step as a starting point and not our endgoal. With the foundation of having all English qualifications being searchable on our website and our comparison tool creating a Qualimark to represent each one, we would want to allow our users to sign up and create a profile with us where they would be able to keep a selection of the current qualifications they have undertaken, as well as a “wish list” or “study plan” of qualifications they are considering and comparing, all which could be shared or downloaded, to both help them make better career and educational decisions as well as to help them present their qualifications to potential employers who may not have the right understanding of a given qualification value, and thus might overlook a qualified candidate.

We would take our existing model and upgrade it to allow users to search through the entire Ofqual qualification database, and they will be able to save their searches to their own profile which they will be able to share as well

...and compare candidates, too!

Recruiters and employers would have a tool similar to our standard comparison tool, where they would be able to bulk upload CVs and compare all candidate's qualifications against each other as well as individually

Our key to sustainability is offering our comparison tool and the Qualimark for free to learners and the general public, but creating extra functionality around it which we can monetise to recruiters and employers, who could be doing heavy use of this technology to drastically simplify their workflow and improve their candidate selection process.

We would create an employer/recruiter premium section of our website with a paid membership model, to allow them to bulk upload CVs into the system and have us automatically plot a comparison tool with their candidates and their qualifications, to see how they compare against each other, and also how an individual candidates’ qualifications compare with any other qualification of their choice which they would choose to benchmark their candidates against.

To achieve this, we would use a machine learning natural language processing model, through which we would run the uploaded CVs, and spot the learners qualifications and match them to the appropriate Ofqual qualification. We will train this machine learning model with our pre existing database of over 3000 resumes, which we will anonymise and process according to the ICO rules. At the end of this funding period, we will be at a production stage and we will leverage our industry connections and expertise both on the recruiting and educational ends to secure our first paid customers.

On our way there!

Meet BRITEthink Academy

Screen capture of BRITEthink Academy's website

This collaboration is a proof of concept of the mutually beneficial relationship between Compare Qualifications and training providers.

BRITEthink Academy is an online academy delivering Level 2 and 3 access to higher education courses- they are the first training provider to embrace the Qualimark, which they display for the courses on their website, academy.britethink.co

We are ready to go further

Initial project plan

Click to download our initial project plan on Excel format

This project’s development will run for 9 months, for which we have already produced an initial Gantt chart, which can be downloaded here

Thank you for your interest!

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