To celebrate our 30th anniversary we’re looking back at some of the highlights from over the years.

Today we're looking at the evolution of one of our favourite RSL Awards brands: Vocational Qualifications.

From humble origins in their 2005 launch, Vocational Qualifications (VQs) are now being delivered in over 500 centres both in the UK and overseas. The first qualifications launched were Music Practitioners and Creative Practitioners, and there are now five qualification packages to choose from.

Flexibility is key with Vocational Qualifications, giving delivery centres the ability to tailor their qualification portfolio available at Levels 1 – 5 in music, performing arts and media.

Music Practitioners

The Music Practitioners suite of qualifications are designed to give students a vocationally focused qualification with practical expertise in all areas of the music industry, including composition, performance, technology and entrepreneurship. Music Practitioners can be used in multiple settings up to Level 3 with Tech Awards, Tech Levels and Non-Performance Tables qualifications available.

Creative Practitioners

The Creative Practitioners qualification has pathways available for dancers, actors, musical theatre performers, technicians, musicians, and those wanting to go into other entrepreneurial roles within the music industry. Learners registered on these qualifications perform self and market analysis as well as studying brand development and presentation to the industry.

These qualifications have been completed by musicians such as Ed Sheeran & Jess Glynne but have also produced band managers, label owners and renowned producers.

Creative Digital Media

Creative Digital Media was introduced to the Vocational Qualification provision in 2019. It includes pathways in Interactive Digital Media, Game Design, and Social Media (Level 2 & 3 only). On this course learners will pitch a digital media product, plan for a product release, learn digital design skills, engage in creative speaking and develop their knowledge of digital technology and the digital industry as a whole.

Creative Music Industry

The newest addition to the VQ portfolio is Creative Music Industry. Our Creative Music Industry qualifications have five pathways: Performance, Production, Composition, Live Events and Entrepreneurship. Each pathway is defined by the mandatory content within it, but there are a huge range of optional units on offer enabling centres and learners to tailor their qualification to their main strengths and areas of interest.

Building on our long running, market leading Music Practitioners specifications, RSL has introduced bitesize ‘skills units’ which offer learners the opportunity to get a taste of a wider range of disciplines and develop a broader knowledge of the sector. Units have also been developed in Social Media, Streaming and Online Distribution to reflect developments in the current music industry.

Creative and Performing Arts

The Creative and Performing Arts qualification was added to the Vocational Qualifications suite in 2015. Teaching content covers a variety of sectors within the performing arts industry, enabling a degree of flexibility for learners to choose their own path. Their are qualifications available at Levels 1–3 that also appear on the Department for Education Performance Tables. Teaching content covers a variety of sectors within the performing arts industry, enabling a degree of flexibility for learners to choose their own path.

Creative Industries Practitioners

RSL Awards' Level 3 – 5 qualifications for Creative Industries Practitioners have been designed to build on the successful range of Vocational Qualifications already available in Music, Performing Arts and Creative Digital Media. They are aimed at centres looking to offer progression to a higher level of education.

The unifying element of work within modern creative industries is the expectation for practitioners to undertake a portfolio career. This suite of qualifications has been designed to encourage the development of skills and self-reflection needed to navigate a unique and varied route through a complex landscape of careers.

The qualifications have been designed to adapt to any areas of the creative industries, be that Music, Performing Arts, Digital Media, or Business.

VQ Centres

Of course VQ wouldn't be where it is today without the fantastic centres that deliver our qualifications. This year we've had the pleasure of visiting some of the teachers who have been providing students across the country with the materials to take their first steps towards a career in the creative arts.


SupaJam support disadvantaged and vulnerable young people, many of whom have never achieved a formal qualification. SupaJam currently have a 94% music diploma pass rate, and in 2020, 87% of their learners went on to university which is an amazing achievement considering some of them had fallen out of school at the age of 10.


BIMM Institute (British and Irish Modern Music Institute) is Europe’s largest, most connected music institute with eight colleges based across the UK and Europe. The core of BIMM is music education delivered by current music industry specialists.

We travelled down to BIMM Brighton to see how they are utilising RSL's Vocational Qualifications at Levels 2 & 3 to deliver something truly unique and relevant for their music performance and music production students.

New College Swindon

New College Swindon are committed to providing students with the best teaching and learning, facilities, enrichment, development opportunities and guidance support.

In this video, we show how RSL's flexible Vocational Qualifications allow New College Swindon's students achieve their own personal goals or ambitions, whether that's higher education or going straight into the creative industries. We also delve into the wider support RSL offers all delivery centres and the guidance provided by our EQAs (External Quality Assurers).

If you've enjoyed reading about Vocational Qualifications and want to deliver them at your assessment centre then hit the button below to get in touch with a member of the team!