Basic skills

Basic skills are the key skills you need in study and life, and include Maths, English and ICT
Young woman reading among alphabet blocks

Basic skills are very important. Everyone needs them. These are skills like reading, writing, number skills and computer skills that we use every day. You may hear them called Skills for Life. We also use these skills to learn other skills. You need them:

  • To live on your own or look after your home
  • To get a job, and stay in employment
  • To look after your family and possessions

Basic skills are used by adults every day.

Crucial: If you do not gain Maths and English GCSE at grade 5 or above, you will need to carry on studying towards gaining your Maths and English qualifications post-16 as part of your study programme.

Building basic skills

Basic skills are built from a very early age. As soon as you start to read, write and learn, you are building basic skills. You learn basic skills in all lessons, and in other activities, like work experience.

There are also key qualifications you take which prove that you have good enough basic skills. The most important of these are taken in Year 11.

Crucial: Lots of apprenticeships and most jobs need GCSE Maths and English at Grade 5 or above. But if you do not have these qualifications you may still be able to apply. If you are doing an apprenticeship you can complete your Maths or English level 2 as part of your study programme.  

Strengthen your skills

Learners of all ages take time to improve their skills. You can visit BBC Skillswise online.

There are lots of courses offered by employers and  places online where you can improve your skills. Three of the most well-known are:

But there are many others. You will also be offered the opportunity to keep learning and study for qualifications by your employer.

Find out more


Posted by Anwar Baig
Posted ago
Are basic skills and soft skills same?

Hello, thank you for your comment. No, soft skills and basic skills are not the same. Basic skills are things like maths, English and ICT, while soft skills are things like time management and teamworking. 

Posted by Laura Mason
Posted ago
I would like to stsrt basic skills on English and maths i don't have any GCSE and would need to start from very basic

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