Vocational qualifications

National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ)

National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) are qualifications related to a particular industry or sector. You can take an NVQ at work, college or as part of an apprenticeship.

To study for an NVQ you need to be employed or have access to a work placement. An NVQ is a 'competence-based' qualification. This means you learn practical, work-related tasks designed to help you develop the skills and knowledge to effectively do a particular job.

NVQs are based on national standards for various occupations. The standards indicate what a competent person in a job is expected to do. 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.

There are many different NVQs to choose from and NVQs are available in most job sectors.


A key part of an NVQ course is proving that you can do certain work-related tasks. During the course you will be assessed through your portfolio (where you build evidence of the work you have done) and by being observed (where an assessor watches you work and checks that you can perform the necessary tasks). Assessors also ask questions to test your knowledge and understanding as well as your performance.

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