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Monday, 15 October 2012


If you want to get a recognised qualification related to a particular industry or sector, an NVQ may be for you. You can study NVQs at work, college, or as part of an Apprenticeship. Find out what NVQs are, how you can take them and how you’ll be assessed

NVQs: what they are

NVQ stands for National Vocational Qualification. It is a 'competence-based' qualification: this means you learn practical, work-related tasks designed to help you develop the skills and knowledge to do a job effectively.

NVQs are based on national standards for various occupations. The standards say what a competent person in a job could be expected to do and know. As you progress through the course, you compare your skills and knowledge with these standards as you learn, so you can see what you need to do to meet them.

Taking an NVQ could be appropriate if you already have skills and want to improve them, or if you are starting from scratch.

Which levels can you take NVQs at?

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 them

NVQs 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. In some cases you can also do an NVQ if you are at school.

Subjects available

There are lots of different NVQs to choose from. They are available in the vast majority of business sectors, including:

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

Search for courses online

You can look for NVQ courses near you using the National Careers Service course search. 

How you are assessed

NVQs are assessed on practical assignments and a portfolio of evidence. Normally, a qualified assessor will observe you and question you about the real work you carry out in the workplace (or a realistic working environment). They will test your knowledge and understanding as well as your actual performance.

Your assessor will 'sign-off' individual units within the NVQ when you have reached the required standard.

Where it can lead

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

Help and advice

To find out who is offering NVQs or other vocational qualifications near you, speak to your:

  • careers advisor
  • local further education college
  • employer

Advice for adult learners

You can also get advice about NVQs and other qualifications for adult learners from the National Careers Service.

  • National Careers Service: 0800 100 900

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