NVQ stands for National Vocational Qualification.

They are ‘competence-based’ qualifications which means that you learn practical skills and knowledge, and complete tasks relevant to the industry that you work in.

NVQs are based on national standards, set by your industry’s skills council, which say what a competent person in a job could be expected to do.

As you progress through the qualification, you can compare the skills and knowledge you have against the standards, so you can understand what it is you need to do 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 available to adults and young people alike. You can take NVQs if:

  • you are employed
  • you are studying at college and have a part-time job or access to a work placement

You can also take an NVQ qualification at level 2 or 3 as part of an Apprenticeship.

NVQs changed in January 2011

NVQs and some other vocational qualifications changed the way they are structured, allowing learners to learn in a way that suits them better, whilst giving you the skills that employers are looking for.

NVQs now use the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) which groups qualifications together into a number of ‘levels’ that place different demands on learners.

Learn in a way that suits you

Vocational qualifications on the QCF are designed to be much more flexible than other work-related qualifications.

They are made up of units, so you can study at a pace that suits you.

Over time, you can combine units in different ways to make up a complete qualification such as an NVQ Award, NVQ Certificate or NVQ Diploma.

This means that no learning you do is ever ‘lost’ or counts for nothing and you don’t have to repeat unnecessary learning.

Course length

Every new qualification and unit on the QCF has a credit value, showing how long it takes to complete.

One credit is equivalent to 10 hours but this can include time spent learning in a variety of ways – not necessarily being taught by someone.

Qualification Types


An award is the smallest type of qualification on the QCF, it is worth between one and 12 credits which means it takes between 10 and 120 hours to complete.


A certificate is worth between 13 and 36 credits and takes between 130 and 360 hours to complete.


A diploma is worth 37 credits or more, so takes at least 370 hours to complete.

Choose from a wide range of subjects

Below is a list of the NVQ courses available with Total People.

  • Accountancy
  • Animal Care
  • Barbering
  • Bricklaying
  • Business & Administration
  • Carpentry and Joinery
  • Chef – Professional Cookery
  • Childcare
  • Contact Centre
  • Customer Service
  • Dental Nursing
  • Electrical
  • Engineering
  • Equestrian
  • Food & Drink Service
  • Furniture Manufacturing
  • Hairdressing
  • Health & Social Care
  • Healthcare
  • Hospitality Supervision
  • Housekeeping
  • IT User
  • IT Professional
  • Laboratory & Associated Technical Activities
  • Management
  • Manufacturing
  • Motor Vehicle Maintenance and Repair
  • Painting and Decorating
  • Plumbing
  • Reception
  • Retail
  • Supporting Teaching and Learning
  • Vehicle Parts Distribution
  • Warehouse and Distribution

How is an NVQ achieved?

NVQs are assessed on practical assignments and a portfolio of evidence. A Total People Training Adviser will observe your employee and question them about the work they carry out in the workplace to test their knowledge and understanding as well as their actual performance.

The Training Adviser will ‘sign-off’ individual units within the NVQ when your member of staff has reached the required standard.


In April 2013, there will be a resturcture in the way that qualifications are funded. There will be no government funding available for anyone aged 24+ who wants to do a qualification and this had led to the introduction of 24+ Advanced Learning Loans.


If you feel that NVQs can help you reach your full potential contact us.