There are a huge variety of qualifications available to study in the UK. While most people have heard of the most common ones, such as GCSEs and A-Levels, there are lots more options to explore. It may be that you are looking for a more vocational qualification and have heard of BTECs as an option. Another possible course for you to complete is an NVQ – however, this is far less well-known. This article will talk more about what NVQ stands for, and what exactly it involves.
The acronym NVQ stands for a National Vocational Qualification. The name gives you plenty of information about what an NVQ is – a qualification you can take that is focussed on developing practical skills in a certain area of work. They are flexible qualifications, which don’t require previous experience or particular exam grades. Instead, you submit evidence of your developing skills as you work at the end of which you are awarded a qualification that can be really useful as you progress through your career.
Keep reading to find out plenty more about NVQs, including who can take them, equivalent qualifications, and common subjects.
What is an NVQ?
An NVQ is a vocational qualification – in fact, it stands for National Vocational Qualification – that centres around skills in the workplace, as with many other vocational courses. For plenty of information about what a vocational qualification actually is, have a look at this Think Student article.
Essentially, the candidate builds up a portfolio containing evidence of their skills in relation to a particular job or workplace. This is assessed over time, and once you have demonstrated competence in your field of work over a period of time, you will be awarded the qualification.
Often, people involved in an apprenticeship scheme will be working towards an NVQ. However, it is an incredibly flexible qualification, with different subjects and levels available. If you are looking to complete an NVQ, there is likely one for you.
One of the advantages of an NVQ is that you do not need any prior qualifications to enrol. This makes the qualification more accessible to people with different educational backgrounds. Once the NVQ is completed, it also provides valuable evidence of your skills to any future employers.
What is an NVQ equivalent to?
Although the NVQ is a vocational qualification, it can still be equivalent to academic courses such as GCSEs and A-Levels. There are different levels of NVQ qualifications, and this will affect what they are equivalent to. Check out this page of the government website for a guide to the different qualification levels.
For example, an NVQ at Level 2 is equivalent to 4-5 GCSEs. Level 3 is equivalent to 2 A-Levels. On the higher end, a Level 6 NVQ is actually equivalent to an undergraduate degree. For more on what each of the NVQ levels correspond to, have a look at this guide from reed.co.uk. Also check out this Think Student article to see the various NVQ levels compared to other qualifications in the UK.
The range of NVQ qualifications makes it even more flexible. There are no age restrictions, and you can find the level that suits you best at your current stage of education or work.
The first three levels take on average a year to complete, as you need to show your skills across a period of time. More advanced, will likely take longer. However, because the course involves showing your skills in the workplace, you are often earning money while completing the qualification, which is a huge benefit for students.
How do you complete an NVQ?
As mentioned, NVQs are flexible and accessible, so almost anyone should be able to complete one. One of the first things you will need to decide is which area you want to complete the qualification in, as different skills are needed for different job sectors. Some of the most popular include social care, construction, and management – but there are hundreds available.
Lots of different providers run NVQ courses. This website – findcourses.co.uk – allows you to search and compare different courses you might be interested in. Lots of courses are available online, and you may be enrolled in a college or apprenticeship scheme which includes NVQ qualifications.
Once you enrol in an NVQ, you can start building up your portfolio as you progress through your job, placement or apprenticeship. One of the advantages of this qualification is that there are no traditional exams. Instead, the course is centred around the portfolio and practical evidence, similar to coursework.
Additionally, you cannot fail an NVQ. If your portfolio is assessed, and it is decided more evidence is needed, you can simply continue growing your skill set and building your portfolio, until you are at a suitable level to achieve the qualification.