National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) are work-based awards achieved through assessment and training. Students can undertake them while working, or at school or college alongside a work placement or part-time job. 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.

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NVQs are available at 5 different levels:

  • Level 1 is equivalent to three or four GCSEs at grade D-E
  • Level 2 is equivalent to four or five GCSEs at grade A*-C
  • Level 3 is equivalent to two or more A Levels
  • Level 4 is equivalent to a foundation or bachelor’s degree
  • Level 5 is equivalent to a post-graduate qualification such as a master’s degree

NVQs are designed to test students’ abilities in the workplace and to complete an NVQ they need to prove that they can do certain work-related tasks. This is assessed through a portfolio (evidence of the work they've done) and observation (an assessor watches them work and checks that they can do the tasks).

Students interested in the areas of animal care; plants and the land; construction; engineering; manufacturing; transporting; providing good and services; providing health, social and protective services; and providing business services, may find NVQs the most suitable qualifications for them.

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