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NVQs Explained - Everything You Need to Know

National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) are courses that give you skills and knowledge required to secure a specific job. They typically teach practical skills alongside accompanying theory, emphasising work-based training so that candidates get a thorough grounding in the career they are pursuing.

Read on for a comprehensive guide and key insights into NVQs.


What is an NVQ?

An NVQ is a training course that provides a framework for individuals who want to become qualified for vocational positions. They give employers a specific and measurable set of criteria for candidates to meet in order to qualify, providing non-academic certifications that demonstrate competency in specific skills.

In other words, they teach you the skills and knowledge you need to do a particular job. Training providers can be schools, colleges and workplaces, and require you to be in full or part-time work/study.


How Many Levels of NVQs Are There?

Not including the entry level, there are 7 main NVQ levels. Each one involves the teaching and application of work-based competencies. Here is the basic structure:

  • Entry Level: This is where you start with no previous qualifications or knowledge.
  • NVQ Level 1: An introduction to your chosen area of study, where you learn the basics.
  • NVQ Level 2: Building on the previous level, this involves carrying out more complex work-based duties.
  • NVQ Level 3: The range of duties becomes more diverse and complex, with more autonomy given.
  • NVQ Level 4: The introduction of specialist training covering a specific area of work, ideal for prospective managers.
  • NVQ Level 5: Learning about an area of work on a deeper level to gain a high degree of expertise.
  • NVQ Level 6: Aimed at senior managers, this offers an in-depth understanding of your discipline.
  • NVQ Level 7: The highest level of NVQ training, this makes you an expert in your field.

What are NVQ Qualifications Equivalent To?

NVQs are vocational qualifications, but they can be measured against various other certifications to open up numerous career and education opportunities.

Here are the rough equivalents:

  • NVQ Level 1: 3-4 GCSE grades D-G
  • NVQ Level 2: 4-5 GCSE grades A*-C
  • NVQ Level 3: 2 A Levels
  • NVQ Level 4: Higher Education Certificate/BTEC
  • NVQ Level 5: Higher Education Diploma/Foundation Degree
  • NVQ Level 6: Undergraduate Degree/Degree Apprenticeship
  • NVQ Level 7: Master’s Degree/PGCE

Benefits of NVQs for Employers

For employers, NVQs are an effective way to develop employees to a nationally-recognised standard, thus improving efficiency. The certifications prove a candidate’s capability to do their job, providing them with on-the-job training with minimal downtime for the employee.

Having your staff undergo this training demonstrates a commitment to high standards both internally and externally. And it ensures employees are fully up-to-date with industry standards and best practices.


Benefits of NVQs for Individuals

NVQs are a flexible route for individuals to gain qualifications in the workplace without taking exams. You will be able to demonstrate the skills, knowledge and understanding you gain, and be given a certification that shows you have met a national standard for your role.

Once attained, you will improve your employability and transferability, and you will gain access to more recognised qualifications without formal education.


What do NVQ Courses Consist Of?

NVQs are competency-based qualifications, so you are assessed on your ability to perform in the workplace. If you are embarking on an NVQ, you can expect:

  • On-the-job training.
  • Assessment.
  • Evidence gathering.

All of this is aimed at teaching specific skills and knowledge and demonstrating that you know how to apply them in your specific job role or industry.


How Are NVQs Taught?

Teaching of NVQs is always work-based, but it can take place in a college, school or workplace. Each level of NVQ training involves carrying out on-the-job tasks and activities designed to test your ability to do the job. It starts with applying your knowledge to basic tasks before progressing to incorporate theory into various practical contexts.


How Are NVQs Assessed?

There are no exams involved in NVQs. Instead, assessment is based on your ability to do the work required to meet occupational standards.

Assessment is therefore based on:

  • A Portfolio: This will need to contain evidence of the tasks, duties and achievements you have completed at work.
  • Observation: Assessors will watch you work to ensure you are competent enough to complete the required duties.

The levels required are based on the national standards of the job you are doing. Units are signed off when you attain those standards.


How Long Does It Take to Complete an NVQ?

Generally speaking, there is no set time limit for NVQ qualifications. You are free to complete the units at your own pace. Generally speaking, however, you can expect to be working on each of the first 3 levels for about a year.


Are there Any Entry Requirements to Study an NVQ?

NVQs don’t have any specific entry requirements for studying. They are open to people of all ages, and you can begin at the level that works for you. However, in some cases, you will need to complete a Level 2 NVQ before you start on a Level 3 NVQ.

You will also need a job or work placement that enables you to develop the necessary skills to complete your qualification.


What Subjects Can I Complete an NVQ in?

There are many, many subjects that you can complete an NVQ in. They cover a broad range of disciplines, each with their own set of requirements for attaining the certification. Here are some of the most popular NVQs:

  • Travel and tourism.
  • Social care.
  • Care of the elderly and children.
  • Catering.
  • Construction.
  • Administration and management.
  • Beauty and hairdressing.
  • Plumbing.
  • Communications.
  • Design.

What Construction Trades Can I Complete an NVQ In?

There are a wealth of NVQs available in the construction industry, and by completing one you can apply for specific CSCS cards to prove to employers you have the relevant skills and certification to carry out more specialised construction roles. A natural step is to complete a relevant course to obtain your CSCS Blue Skilled Worker Card and increase your earning potential as a skilled worker.

Common construction NVQ Level 2 qualifications include;

There are also higher levels of construction NVQs designed for supervisor and senior management roles. These include.

Are NVQs Worth the Effort?

NVQs can be a great way to kickstart your career by learning while you work. You don’t need any formal qualifications to begin, and gaining certification proves your practical ability to future employers. It is also a flexible route into a certain career, and you gain a recognised qualification without taking any exams.

Overall, in many industries and roles, an NVQ is definitely worth the effort.


How Much Do NVQs Typically Cost?

There is a lot of variation in the cost of NVQs. It depends on the type of training, the level of the NVQ, and the training provider. As a rough guide, you can expect to pay around £100 for basic, Level 1 NVQs, and up to £1,500 or more for Level 7 ones. The other levels fall within this range.


How to Choose an NVQ Training Provider

There are hundreds of NVQ courses available and many different providers. You will need to find a provider local to you, or who offers distance learning packages, and find a method of training that aligns with your circumstances. Take a look at our training and find a few other options to compare to. You should be able to find a good match at the right price to begin your training.


Final Thoughts

NVQs are an accessible method of training that require no prior qualifications. You can get nationally-recognised and respected certifications in a wide range of disciplines to help you start or progress a career. With on-the-job learning, no examinations, and the ability to earn as you train, they are an excellent option for many to expand their skills and knowledge.


Why choose PIP Services for your construction NVQ training?

We’re an accredited NEBOSH, IOSH, IWFM and CITB training centre as well as a ProQual approved NVQ centre.

We specialise in delivering Construction related NVQs from Level 1 to Level 7, covering trades such as carpentry, bricklaying and joinery right through to construction supervision, construction management and health and safety. We also offer a wide range of CITB courses including;

Since launching in 2005 we have rapidly progressed with thousands of clients coming through our training centre in the heart of Dagenham each year, as well as providing online options where available. We have helped countless people advance their career in construction and hope to do the same for you.

If you would like to speak to us about your construction training needs, please get in touch using the button below.


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