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 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. 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.
NVQs are at levels 1 to 5 on the National Qualifications Framework.
Most NVQ frameworks require 16 - 18 year old learners to start at level 2. The entry requirements for level 2 are 5 GCSEs grades D - E or equivalent. Further details are listed in the School Leaver prospectus which can be viewed on the How to Apply page. The full-time course application form can also be downloaded and completed.
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.
You are assessed as being either 'competent' or 'not yet competent'.
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