National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) are 'competence-based' qualifications. This means you will be expected to show you can do set things to a competent standard. They suit students wishing to develop work-related skills. Learning is through practical work-related tasks which help you develop the skills and knowledge to do a job to the right standard. They are designed to be studied at 5 levels from introductory to senior management level. Level 4 and 5 NVQs are equivalent to higher education qualifications.
You can study for an NVQ at a local college or training provider. You can also study online and through distance learning. If you are in a job and have already developed certain skills and competencies, these can be assessed towards an NVQ in your workplace.
Within reason, there is no maximum time limit to complete an NVQ - it is designed to be taken at a pace that suits your needs. However, many learners take about one year to complete an NVQ at level 1 and 2, and around two years for an NVQ at level 3.
Completing an NVQ can lead to further training at the next 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 or other vocational specialism.