People studying for vocational qualifications here are to receive their results based on predicted grades, DUP Economy Minister Diane Dodds announced yesterday.
Qualifications used for progression to further study such as BTEC Nationals, Cambridge Technicals and a range of other level 2 and 3 qualifications will be treated in the same way as GCSEs, AS and A-levels.
Speaking at a Stormont briefing, Mrs Dodds said: "It is my intention that, where possible, the majority of vocational qualifications used for progression will be awarded by the end of August, in line with published results dates, so that learners can progress to their chosen pathway."
The results given to students will be based in part on teacher, trainer or tutor judgments of their learners' attainment, where appropriate, in combination with a range of other evidence and use of statistical methods.
The minister said: "I know how unsettling a time this has been for vocational learners, their families and the wide range of learning centres involved in the delivery of vocational qualifications and Essential Skills qualifications.
"It remains my priority to ensure that young people and adults taking vocational qualifications to progress to further or higher education or employment are treated fairly and equitably in line with the arrangements already made for GCSEs and AS/A-levels."
The decision on vocational qualifications was welcomed by the local further education sector.
Michael McAlister, who chairs the College Principals' Group in Northern Ireland, said: "The further education colleges are pleased that there is now an agreed way forward for students undertaking vocational and technical qualifications and essential skills in Northern Ireland.
"Understandably, there has been very real anxiety among our student population about what Covid-19 means for them and their qualifications."