Your Guide To National Vocation Qualifications And Vocational Training Courses Available


NVQ or national vocational qualifications are competence based qualifications acquired at workplace that demonstrate that the holder has the nationally required skills and aptitude required to perform the job in question.

These qualifications come at different levels and are awarded to demonstrate the level of work based competency the learner has achieved. They are aimed at providing avenues for upward progression in the labour market and into higher level education and training routes if desired.

Traditionally provided by individual employers to meet a specific need in their industry, these qualifications can also be acquired from government funded educational programs as well as private institutions for the over 16 year old.

Vocational qualifications are popular in England and Scotland.

The Scottish version is called SVQ. It was first introduced in England in 1986 to combat a widening skill gap in the society.

These qualifications are gained by demonstrating that you have acquired the necessary skills, knowledge and understanding required to do a particular job.

NVQs are not obtained by writing professional exams per se. The assessments are done on the spot at your work place.  The Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) is a government directed program that regulates the structure, titles and quality assurance specifications for vocational qualifications across England, Wales and Northern Ireland for uniformity. The exams are set by the employer in line with the standards laid out by the QCF. It may include a written and oral component, as well as practical demonstration of particular set of skills.

The beauty of this type of qualification is that you do not have any limitation placed on you based on age, how long you trained or where you obtained your training, provided it is in the same industry. You can elect to do your exams whenever you feel ready and able to do it.

Why Study For An NVQ?

The following are top reasons why taking an NVQ is a smart move:

  • Having a National Vocational Qualification provides a documented evidence that you are capable of doing the task or scope of job it covers as well as that you also have a good grounding of the theoretical basis of that job. It is a UK-wide or nationally accepted qualification.
  • Studying for a recognized national vocational qualification provides frame work on which career progression and salary increase negotiation can be based.
  • It could also act as a stepping stone to progressing to managerial level (e.g taking care nvq 3 for example) in a given occupation or into a higher educational pursuit. Some have progressed from taking the teaching nvq as teaching assistants and progressed through the ranks to the level of a Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).
  • Since anyone can qualify to take a nationally recognized vocational qualification, you don't have to have a GCSE or any qualification to take a vocational qualification.

A recent (The Wolf Report, March 2011) UK government commissioned research showed that obtaining an NVQ in your place of employment provides better financial reward and recognition than taking one out of employment.

Vocational Training Courses Available

There are over 500 different jobs and career types you could obtain an National Vocational Qualification in. In fact, close to 90% of all types of professions in the UK have vocational qualification entry points.

The most popular NVQs taking in the England, Northern Ireland and Wales as well as in Scotland include:

  • Accounting
  • Automotive
  • Aviation
  • Baking
  • Beauty Therapy
  • Brewing
  • Business and Administration
  • Care NVQ
  • Child Care
  • Cleaning
  • Construction
  • Customer Service
  •  Dental Nursing
  • Electrician / Electrical
  • Engineering
  • Facilities Management
  • Fashion & Textiles
  • Financial Services
  • Food & Catering
  • Food and Drink Manufacture
  • Furniture
  • Hairdressing
  • Health and Social Care
  • Horticulture
  • Hospitality and Catering
  • Hospitality Management
  • Hospitality Supervision
  • Housing
  • Jewellery
  • Laundry Operations
  • Mail Services
  • Meat and Poultry Skills
  • Payroll
  • Pharmacy Services
  • Playwork
  • Photo Imaging / Photo Processing
  • Plumbing
  • Policing
  • Property
  • Providing Financial Advice
  • Retail: Retail Skills
  • Security
  • Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools
  • Telesales
  • Teaching
  • Travel and Tourism Services

How Far Can You Study For An NVQ?

National vocational qualifications can be obtain at levels 1 to 5 in most trades or even to level 8 equivalent. The following are what each of the vocational training qualification levels mean and what could be achieved with them.

  • Level 1
    Deals with basic introduction skills to the particular industry. Your current level of knowledge is assessed and you are given simple routine predictable task to perform.
  • Level 2
    Assesses your skill, knowledge and understanding of a more varied non-routine task, where you are expected to demonstrate some level of individual autonomy and responsibility.
  • Level 3
    Is a middle level qualification that shows you have demonstrated knowledge and skills in handling complex job situations as well as been able to show some control over others. It is equivalent to having an A level qualification.
  • Level 4
    Involves the application of skills in a broad range of complex technical and professional context with a remarkable degree of personal autonomy and responsibility, as well as taking substantial responsibility for the activities of others working with you. It demonstrates that you can function at a junior managerial role.
  • Level 5
    Demonstrates that you have the ability to carry out varied and complex task working from first principle, been able to direct and monitor others activity, and coordinate the conception, design and execution of tasks , taking total personal responsibility.

Where To Go To For Vocational Courses And Assessments

The following are approved NVQ providers, though there are many other providers and assessors who offer trade specific vocational training qualification.

  • Council for Awards in Children Care and Education (CACHE),
  • City & Guilds,
  • Edexcel,
  • OCR, and
  • London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCIEB).

These bodies liaises with work place for the conduct of these professional exams, and are able to maintain quality by sending in External National Vocational Qualification Assessors who randomly pick candidates and re-assess their work as judged by the internal assessor.

Thinking of studying for a vocational qualification? Do you have the time, financial and emotional commitment it requires, then go for it. You will be amazed by how quickly you could complete your NVQ and rise to high level in your job. You can get the necessary vocational books today and start studying for your vocational exam.

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