Frequently Asked Questions


  • What is Skillsfile?

    Skillsfile is the e-portfolio from Cskills Awards. Much more than just an e-portfolio, Skillsfile gives you the ability to manage your learners from centre induction through to qualification certification, all within a website.

  • What is an e-portfolio?

    An e-portfolio is electronic storage of your learner's portfolio, traditionally a paper-based collection of your learner's information and their evidence and learning outcomes for their qualification.

    Skillsfile enables you to view portfolios, assess evidence and verify assessment decisions anywhere you have internet access.

    The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and awarding organisations encourage the use of e-portfolios for competence-based qualifications. They are being used more frequently to help learners complete their qualifications quickly.

  • Are there other e-portfolios?

    There are e-portfolios available in construction and other industries. Some are purpose built and others are software packages which can be 'bought off the shelf'.

  • What makes Skillsfile different?

    Skillsfile is unique in that it has been developed by Cskills Awards, the leading construction awarding organisation, in consultation with customers so that you can be confident it supports your processes and quality requirements.

    Skillsfile is more than just an e-portfolio, it's a complete learner management system that provides you with many benefits which other e-portfolios do not. Some key benefits include:

    • Internal verification - automatic formative internal verification allows you to set unique sampling rates for all of your assessors, and creates systematic workflow verification tasks which can be sent to your internal verifiers.
    • Qualification information built in - all the learning outcomes and assessment criteria are viewable for each qualification for easy cross referencing.
    • Reduced storage - with information stored online Skillsfile removes the need to keep paper portfolios and associated portfolio transportation logistics and costs. Reducing the volume of paper is also kinder to the environment.
    • Management Information - instant Management Information (MI) is available at the touch of a button to help review learner progress, staff workloads and results.
    • Increased portfolio availability - with portfolios accessible online, users can simultaneously access learners' portfolios and reduce the amount of time lost while portfolios are sent between your staff.
    • Online library - useful information from documents or websites can be stored in your own online library.
    • Messages - instant systematic messages between Skillsfile users provides immediate feedback within assessment and verification.
    • News - a communication tool for your use with all your staff and learners.
  • How much is Skillsfile?

    Skillsfile is priced per learner portfolio, and with no other set-up costs it's good value, whatever your business size. Please contact your customer coordinator for an up-to-date fees list on 0300 999 1177.

  • Why is Skillsfile so low cost?

    Unlike other e-portfolios Skillsfile does not have any initial set-up or maintenance costs, and a number of Skillsfile functions have been provided to you without charge.

  • How do I get my staff to use e-portfolios?

    Any change may bring uncertainty and confusion for your staff and because of this there can be adversity in changing how you work. Your staff will be paramount to any change so discussing the rationale and benefits with them are a great way to get them on board. Getting them involved and ensuring they receive individual training will also help.

    Please read the Customer Support section for further information on the support available to you.

  • What if I cannot afford to change my processes?

    All change is difficult and does require a period of transition as you move to different ways of working. E-portfolios, including Skillsfile, will help you to achieve savings in the delivery of your qualifications. The amount of saving is up to you, depending on how much of your business you are looking to change. But, reducing or removing the need for storage, stationary, travel and down-time all help you to make savings in the long-term.

    E-portfolios are likely to become more important in the future and could influence learners and employers when they are choosing where they would like to develop new skills. In the next few years more colleges and training providers will embrace this technology, which could leave those using more traditional methods exposed to increased costs and longer delivery times. This in turn could affect their operating costs and the price they can offer to their customers.

  • What tips do you have on capturing evidence electronically?

    To make the best use of an e-portfolio, avoiding waste and keeping evidence pertinent to the learning outcomes are considered best practice. Some simple yet effective suggestions include:

    • Labelling evidence consistently - titling a piece of evidence 'video' will not help you or anyone else to find it later. An effective naming convention that all your staff follow would be ideal.
    • Using bite-size files - videos and sound files up to 10 minutes in length will allow you to upload them quicker. This means you won't have to watch and listen to hours of media that doesn't meet any assessment criteria.
    • Supporting software - ensuring your computer will play the media which your electronic mobile device will capture. Some modern digital cameras and camera phones require specialist software to play which is not supported by common software such as Windows Media Player and Apple QuickTime.


  • Who can use Skillsfile?

    Skillsfile is available to any Cskills Awards approved centre. Skillsfile provides a number of different user types, to support the variety of different activities within your centre. These include:

    • system administrators (superusers)
    • centre managers
    • centre administrators
    • internal verifiers
    • assessors
    • work-based recorders
    • employers
    • learners
    • external verifiers for non-Cskills Awards qualifications.

    All system roles have different access and permissions, and can use Skillsfile simultaneously. Additional permissions can be given to each user on an individual basis to provide flexibility for you and the way you operate.

  • Does a paper portfolio have to be compiled as well as a Skillsfile one?

    No, Skillsfile stores all your learner's information and portfolio online, which can be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All information is securely stored and accessible for users' in line with their permissions within Skillsfile.

  • When learners complete their qualification, what happens with their Skillsfile portfolio?

    Learners have on-going access to their portfolio through their login details. They can use this to show evidence and learning compiled through this. Their portfolio will be kept for 3 years following completion – they will need to download their portfolio if they wish to keep it after that time.

  • Can learners' employers access Skillsfile?

    Yes, you can create access for employer contacts you work with. The employer role can access the learners' plans and portfolios to view their progress through the qualification. When a learner registers on Skillsfile they must agree to their employer being given access, to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998.

  • Are the training qualifications, Key Skills and Functional Skills on Skillsfile?

    Not as yet.

  • Does Skillsfile replace the induction paperwork, for example the Individual Learner Record (ILR)?

    Skillsfile can be used to create a standard centre induction, although this is not mandatory. The information captured during the induction and when creating a learner can be used to support the ILR. You can also upload individual supporting documents to the learner's portfolio via the 'Document upload' button.

  • Does an initial assessment still have to be completed outside Skillsfile?

    If you choose to use Skillsfile profiling, this will generate questions based on the National Occupations Standards (NOS). Alternatively you can upload a hardcopy profile to Skillsfile via the 'Document upload' button and store them safely in the learner's portfolio.

  • How does Skillsfile capture signatures?

    Within Skillsfile all users are unique and password protected. All activities within Skillsfile are recorded as a history, and any activity within Skillsfile which requires an approval or sign-off is deemed as an electronic signature by that user due to the security of their login.

  • Is there availability to include or manage mileage rates in Skillsfile?

    No, Skillsfile does not include mileage calculations or claims.

  • Can Skillsfile be used for registering for some units and not full qualifications?

    You can use Skillsfile for a single unit, a group of units or a full qualification. Individual units chosen at the point of registration will be grouped into one portfolio for the learner and charged at the standard learner portfolio licence price.

  • When will training qualifications be added to Skillsfile?

    As part of the on-going development of Skillsfile we are looking at a complete package to support training qualifications. If you are interested in working with us and sharing your thoughts then please contact your customer coordinator. Our objective is to ensure we can provide a comprehensive package covering every aspect of training and we use Skillsfile and modern technology to support this.

  • Can the delivery method for my learner be changed after their qualification has been selected?

    Yes, you can change a learner's delivery method, New Entrant (NE), On-Site Assessment and Training (OSAT) or Experienced Worker Practical Assessment (EWPA), prior to registration with Cskills Awards. Once the learner(s) have been registered this cannot be changed. Where learners move from NE to OSAT/EWPA a profiling (initial assessment) plan will need to be created. If you have set your centre configuration to run profiling automatically this will be generated for you, otherwise you will need to ensure you have supporting profiling for the learner and this can be uploaded to Skillsfile using the 'Document upload' button.

  • Have any updates been made to profiling?

    Skillsfile's in-built profiling tool is now set as a default to 'off'. This can be changed using the 'Tools' button and selecting 'Centre Configuration', and changing the profile to 'on'. You must ensure that those learners who are being assessed by EWPA or OSAT have a profile attached to their portfolio. This can be uploaded using the 'Document upload' button.

  • Have any changes been made to the portfolio?

    Yes, changes have been made in line with the QCF format of delivery. In each unit performance criteria and knowledge and understanding has been replaced with learning outcomes and assessment criteria.

    The unit summary screen has also been updated to show where partial evidence has been assessed, and more flexibility has been given around the written text which can be recorded. All help files within Skillsfile reflect these changes.


  • What software is needed to run Skillsfile?

    Skillsfile does not require any special software as it is accessed like a normal website through the internet. For optimum performance it is recommended you use a broadband connection. Skillsfile supports all the major Internet Browsers.

  • Does Skillsfile work offline?

    No, to use Skillsfile you need to have access to the internet. Offline working is being investigated as a possible development of Skillsfile.

  • Can I 'hit the road' with Skillsfile?

    To use Skillsfile all you require is access to the internet. This can be done using WI-FI or 4G connectivity via Mobile.

  • Can Skillsfile be used for archive storage?

    Skillsfile provides online storage for the learners' plans and portfolio information and evidence. Generic storage for your centre is not supported and this will be monitored by Cskills Awards.

  • When uploading evidence, what file types does Skillsfile support?

    Skillsfile enables lots of file types to support different evidence types, including:

    • professional discussions
    • photographs
    • movies
    • diaries
    • commentary against every piece of evidence
    • test results
    • reports
    • drawings
    • letters
    • interviews.

    More obscure file types may require conversion before being uploaded to Skillsfile. Cskills Awards will regularly monitor this and update Skillsfile where necessary.

  • Is there a maximum data storage size for each e-portfolio?

    No, every learner's needs are different so each portfolio size will change depending on the volume of evidence needed and uploaded. Cskills Awards reserves the right to limit the quantity of documents, data and other material uploaded into Skillsfile at anytime.

  • What hardware is needed for Skillsfile?

    No specific hardware is needed to start using Skillsfile. Skillsfile is an online website requiring just an internet connection.

    Handheld devices and mobile phones designed to capture sound, movie and images to support evidence capture will complement Skillsfile, but no specific model is required.

  • Can Skillsfile be accessed through mobile phone web browsers?

    Yes, Skillsfile is available through handheld mobile devices' internet browsers. No specific tailoring has been made to Skillsfile to adapt it for use with handheld mobile devices, but it can still be accessed as a standard webpage. Therefore, handheld mobile devices with a larger screen are advisable.

  • How long is learner information stored and archived for?

    Skillsfile currently stores information indefinitely. Skillsfile storage will be regularly reviewed to ensure it is meeting your needs and supporting the performance required for Skillsfile.

  • Is qualification information up-to-date in Skillsfile?

    Skillsfile is, like any Cskills Awards product, maintained and kept up-to-date with industry changes, customer feedback and improvements with technology.

  • Is Skillsfile compliant with regulators quality assurance arrangements?

    As Skillsfile has been built by Cskills Awards the quality assurance team have been, and continue to be, involved with every change made to Skillsfile. You must inform your quality advisor of any e-portfolio you use to ensure you remain compliant with the Cskills Awards Requirements for Approved Centres and the QCA NVQ Code of Practice (2006) (QCA/06/2888) for NVQs.

    Skillsfile is compliant with the QCA Regulatory Principles of E-assessment (2007) (QCA/07/3107).

  • Not all learners have access to the internet and for those that do, how can they be persuaded to use it?

    Over 90% of the population use the internet regularly and that figure rises to nearly 100% of users between the ages of 16 to 44. Skillsfile is as simple as using Facebook and Twitter. This should be a consideration on transitioning your business to using e-technology and how your working practices may need to change in order to make the most of e-technology. Some centres, for example, are providing areas for learners to use the internet within their business or college premises, and others are providing information where public internet is available locally.

    It may seem a challenge persuading your learners to login and use Skillsfile, but this is something which can be addressed by working with them. Updating your induction so the learner receives an overview of Skillsfile so they can understand what is required of them is one way that may help with this.

    Please read the Customer Support section for further information on the support available to you.


  • How safe and secure is Skillsfile?

    Skillsfile security has been interrogated and tested to meet the CESG Check from the National Technical Authority for Information Assurance. Skillsfile also has a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Certificate to ensure the website you're accessing is genuine. This SSL certificate is presented to you in the form of a padlock icon in Microsoft Internet Explorer or in Chrome.

  • Could data get lost?

    No, the information recorded in Skillsfile is backed-up every evening, seven days a week to ensure data and information is safe in the event of a severe problem or disaster.

  • What happens if login information is lost or forgotten?

    Following security checks, passwords can be re-set at any point. You are responsible for your own user information and password protection. For Skillsfile System Administrators Cskills Awards will control your information and any changes can be made through your customer coordinator on 0300 999 1177 (Option 2).

  • What data protection rules do users need to be aware of for Skillsfile?

    You are responsible for ensuring you manage all user access appropriately and in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and GDPR from implementation in May 2018. For qualifications from other awarding organisations you are responsible for the qualification information and structures, and keeping Cskills Awards informed if changes are required.

Customer Support

  • What support is available for Skillsfile?

    Using a new system and changing your business processes may not be easy, which is why Skillsfile offers support to new and existing users. The Cskills Awards account management team will work with you to understand your objectives and current delivery processes and will recommend suitable support to help you transition your business to using e-portfolios over the timeline you want. As part of this transition Skillsfile provides:

    • o help pages throughout the system informing you of the content of the page and how to navigate within the screen
    • a comprehensive user guide available to everyone, tailored to each user type, providing content and usability information
    • over the phone help, guidance and support for centre set-up delivered by your customer coordinators
    • Skillsfile consultancy (please contact your customer coordinator for prices).
  • When are the customer coordinators available to help?

    Customer coordinators can be contacted on 0300 999 1177 (Option 2), and are available Monday to Thursday from 8.00am to 5.00pm and Fridays from 9.00am to 4.00pm excluding public holidays (in England and Wales).

  • What support is provided out of working hours?

    If you have a Skillsfile query outside of working hours you can call 0300 999 1177 (Option 2) and leave a message or alternatively email your customer coordinator, who will contact you the following working day.

  • Who is going to train my staff on Skillsfile?

    This is something that can be provided for you. If you wish to use Skillsfile, your Cskills Awards account manager will work with you to look at how this can be implemented within your business, based on what you want to achieve and over the timeframe you desire.

Quality Assurance

  • How will Skillsfile be quality assured?

    The process for quality assuring Skillsfile will follow the existing Cskills Awards process and format for quality assurance. Skillsfile will be used to support visits when viewing verification sampling and learner portfolios.

  • How will Cskills Awards carry out quality assurance if a different e-portfolio is used?

    You must have a quality advisor visit to your site at least annually to quality assure delivery methods used for your qualifications. This must include site visits with assessors and internal verifiers to sample the assessment and verification process.

    Any e-portfolio system can be used by Cskills Awards to remotely sample verification decisions in learner's portfolios, however this will not replace the communication and support you receive from your quality advisor.

    For those of you who operate solely using an e-portfolio system your visit should focus on systems and processes, which means it would be appropriate to carry out increased learner observations.

    The need for your quality advisor to visit you can be reduced when sampling e-portfolios. For a centre who operates both an e-portfolio system and uses traditional methods of assessment and recording, visits will sample the assessment process, systems and portfolios. However, the number of site visits may be reduced by using remote access to sample the e-portfolios available.

    If you introduce your own system or purchase a different e-portfolio you will need to agree with your quality advisor to ensure you remain compliant with the Cskills Awards Requirements for Approved Centres and the QCA Regulatory Principles of E-assessment (2007) (QCA/07/3107).

  • Will Cskills Awards quality assure qualifications from other awarding organisations?

    Cskills Awards quality advisors will only quality assure Cskills Awards qualifications and units. They do not have access to portfolios which are for qualifications or units for other awarding organisations. You have the ability to create an external verifier role for your centre which will allow you to give viewing access to other awarding organisations external verifiers you work with.