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NVQs and SVQs

These are by far our most popular awards. Learners like them because they can do them without having to give up work. Employers like them because they demonstrate an individual's true skill. 

What are NVQs and SVQs?

NVQs (National Vocational Qualifications) are based on national occupational standards. These standards are statements of performance that describe what competent people in a particular occupation are expected to be able to do. They cover all the main aspects of an occupation, including current best practice, the ability to adapt to future requirements and the knowledge and understanding that underpin competent performance. 

Within reason, NVQs do not have to be completed in a specified amount of time. They can be taken by full-time employees or by school and college students with a work placement or part-time job that enables them to develop the appropriate skills. There are no age limits and no special entry requirements.

SVQs (Scottish Vocational Qualifications) operate broadly in the same way as NVQs, but are used mostly in Scotland. All SVQs are credit rated and levelled and feature in the Scottish Credit Qualifications Framework (SCQF) in order to enable clear learner progression between other Scottish national qualifications and the SVQ provision, including Modern Apprenticeship Frameworks. You can see how the SVQs are related to other Scottish qualifications in the SCQF here.

How are NVQs and SVQs achieved?

NVQs/SVQs work by testing your abilities in the workplace. To complete an NVQ/SVQ you need to prove that you can do certain work-related tasks. They are assessed in a combination of ways: By portfolio - you build up evidence of what you've done at work; and by observation - an assessor watches you work and checks that you can do the tasks.

Candidates produce evidence to prove they have the competence to meet the NVQ/SVQ standards. Assessors sign off units when the candidates are ready. The assessor tests candidates' knowledge, understanding and work-based performance to make sure they can demonstrate competence in the workplace.

Candidates compare their performance with the standards as they learn. They look at what they have achieved, how much they still need to do and how they should go about it, until they are assessed as competent for a unit or a whole NVQ/SVQ. The system is right for candidates who already have skills and want to increase them, but also for those who are starting from the beginning. As the system is so flexible, new ways of learning can be used immediately. 

Vocational qualifications

Progression awards, certificates, diplomas and other vocational awards - we use a number of different names for them but these awards are designed for people who can't take an NVQ (NVQs are only available to you if you're currently employed).

So, if you're unable to take an NVQ because you're still looking for work, are changing career or just don't feel an NVQ is right for you, then one of these can help. They're classroom-based awards that will help you learn the knowledge and skills you would need to do a job or take and NVQ. They're assessed in a number of ways: assignments, practical tests, written exams or even online multiple choice tests. These are an ideal way to improve your knowledge and get that promotion you're after.

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