What is an NVQ?

National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) are competence-based awards in England, Wales and Northern Ireland that are achieved through assessment and training.

To complete an NVQ, candidates must prove that they have the ability to carry out their job to the required standard.

NVQs are based on National Occupational Standards that describe the 'competencies' expected in any given job role.

What are the different levels?

NVQs can be at levels 1 to 5 on the National Qualifications Framework and the Qualifications and Credit Framework.

The frameworks show how different types of qualifications compare, in terms of the demands they place on learners.

Who can take an NVQ?

These qualifications are available to adults and young people alike.

You can take NVQs if:

  • you are employed
  • you are studying at college and have a part-time job or access to a work placement

You can also take an NVQ qualification at level 2 or 3 as part of an Apprenticeship.

What subjects are available?

There are many different NVQs you can choose from. They are available in a majority of business sectors, including:

  • business and administration
  • sales, marketing and Retail
  • health and social care
  • food, catering and leisure services
  • construction and property
  • manufacturing, production and engineering

How will I be assessed?

NVQs are assessed on practical assignments and a portfolio of evidence.

You will normally find that a qualified assessor will observe you and question you about the duties you carry out in the workplace, or in a realistic working environment.

They will test your knowledge and understanding as well as your actual performance.

When you have reached the required standard for a particular unit, your assessor will 'sign-off' on it.

What can I do next?

Completing an NVQ can lead to further training at the next NVQ level.

You can even go all the way to a level 5 NVQ and/or professional qualifications, usually in a related area.

If you've studied an NVQ at level 3, you could also go on to a higher education course in a related vocational area, such as a:

  • Higher National Certificate
  • Higher National Diploma
  • Foundation Degree
  • other vocational specialism