National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) are work-based awards achieved through assessment and training. You can undertake them full-type while working, or at school or college in alongside to a work placement or part-time job that enables you to develop appropriate skills. They do not need to be completed over a specific amount of time, and 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 underpins competent performance. 

NVQs are available at 5 different levels and are equivalent to other qualifications and therefore entry requirements differ depending on entry level. Specifically (and roughly):

  • Level 1 - equivalent to three or four GCSE at grade D-E
  • Level 2 - equivalent to four or five GCSE at grade A*-C
  • Level 3 - equivalent to two or more A Levels

NVQs test your abilities in the workplace and to complete an NVQ you need to prove that you can do certain work-related tasks. This is assessed through a portfolio (evidence of the work you've done) and observation (an assessor watches you work and checks that you can do the tasks). You also compare your performance with the set standards as you go along: in this way, you look at what you've achieved, how much you still need to do and how you are to go about it, until you are competent enough to be assessed for a whole module or NVQ. 

If you are interested in the areas of tending to animals, plants and the land; construction; engineering; manufacturing; transporting; providing good and services; providing health, social and protective services; and providing business services then NVQs may be the most suitable qualifications for you to take.