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National Vocational Qualifications in the United Kingdom. Author: Richard Leach Venue: Turku, Finland Date: 14 th September 2007. What is an NVQ?. National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) are work related, competence based qualifications.

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National vocational qualifications in the united kingdom

National Vocational Qualifications in the United Kingdom

Author: Richard Leach

Venue: Turku, Finland

Date: 14th September 2007

What is an nvq
What is an NVQ?

  • National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) are work related, competence based qualifications.

  • NVQs reflect ‘best practice’ and are based on National Occupational Standards written by the particular employment-led Sector Skills council

  • NVQ Units are achieved by demonstrating competence at work

Nvq levels
NVQ Levels

  • NVQ’s are available in 5 levels, for Engineering these roughly correspond to:

    • Level 1: Operators ~ routine and predictable

    • Level 2: Operators with Higher Skills ~ somecomplex, non routine

    • Level 3: Technician, Craft employees and Team Leaders ~ mainlycomplex, non routine

    • Level 4: Technician Engineers, Engineers and Engineering Managers ~ complex technical and strategic tasks

    • Level 5: Professional Engineers ~ professional engineering

How are nvqs implemented
How are NVQs Implemented?

  • The whole system is administered by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) who approve and monitor awarding bodies

  • Sector Skills Councils (SSC) work with industry to develop occupational standards that are used to define the NVQs

  • Awarding Bodies approve centres to deliver NVQs. They will be approved by QCA and oversee quality

Qualification structure
Qualification Structure

  • NVQ structure includes:

    • Qualification title

    • Skill area

    • Unit titles

    • General breakdown of activities

  • Units Are Written to include

    • Evidence routes

    • Elements

    • Performance criteria

    • Range

    • Knowledge Skills


  • An NVQ is achieved by proving workplace competence

  • The specified standards for NVQs have been developed by people analysing the functions and key activities carried out in the workplace

  • To achieve an NVQ a candidate must demonstrate that they meet all criteria by collecting and presenting evidence, usually in the form of a portfolio

In general there are two types of evidence
...In general there are two types of evidence:

  • Performance Evidence, i.e evidence of actually doing the job

    • Direct observation

    • Finished article

    • Production records

    • Witness statements

  • Knowledge Evidence i.e evidence that indicates the candidates knowledge of the job – achieved through questioning

The process
The Process

  • Employee/Trainee is registered for appropriate NVQ

  • Candidate undergoes training in accordance with an agreed assessment plan

  • Evidence is gathered and recorded in portfolio

  • Candidate undergoes regular visits in the workplace by a qualified assessor

  • The assessor will assist the candidate through the assessment process by ensuring there are appropriate training opportunities and also make assessment decisions and provide feedback

The process cont
The Process cont...

  • Assessment decisions made by the assessor will be sampled by an Internal Verifier to assure quality

  • The Internal verifier will also advise and support assessors and candidates as and when required and ensure standardisation of assessment within the organisation

  • The Internal Verifier will in turn be monitored by an External Verifier employed by the awarding body to ensure that their requirements are met.


  • The UK Apprenticeship frameworks are defined by the Sector Skills Councils

  • Essentially two types

    • Apprenticeship – consists of appropriate NVQ2, Technical Certificate , and Key Skills at level 1/2

    • Advanced Apprenticeship - consists of appropriate NVQ3, Technical Certificate , and Key Skills at level 2

  • Technical Certificates provide the underpinning knowledge for the NVQ

  • Funding is only available for 16 – 24yr learners

Higher apprenticeships
Higher Apprenticeships

  • The new Higher Apprenticeship is a programme designed to incorporate the new Foundation Degrees into work-based learning

  • On a Higher Apprenticeship in Engineering, a young person would achieve:

    • 1 x NVQ level 4 or 2 x NVQ level 3 plus NVQ level 4 units

    • Foundation Degree in Engineering

    • Basic Skills, PEO or PMO

    • 5 x Key Skills at level 3

    • Professional Institution Standards – UK Spec

Thames Valley University

Useful links
Useful Links

  • - City & Guilds

  • - EMTA Awards Limited

  • - Edexcel (BTEC)

  • - SEMTA (Engineering Sector Skill Council)

  • - Qualifications and Curriculum Authority

  • - Sector Skills Development Agency

  • - LSC learning aims database

Any questions
Any Questions?

Thames Valley University