National Vocational Qualification

National Vocational Qualification

National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) are work based awards in England, Wales and Northern Ireland that are achieved through assessment and training. In Scotland they are known as Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ).

To achieve an NVQ, candidates must prove that they have the ability (competence) to carry out their job to the required standard. NVQs are based on National Occupational Standards that describe the 'competencies' expected in any given job role. Typically, candidates will work towards an NVQ that reflects their role in a paid or voluntary position. For example someone working in an admin office role may take an NVQ in Business and Administration.

There are five levels of NVQ ranging from Level 1, which focuses on basic work activities, to Level 5 for senior management.



  • Level 1
    Competence that involves the application of knowledge in the performance of a range of varied work activities, most of which are routine and predictable.
  • Level 2
    Competence that involves the application of knowledge in a significant range of varied work activities, performed in a variety of contexts. Collaboration with others, perhaps through membership of a work group or team, is often a requirement
  • Level 3
    Competence that involves the application of knowledge in a broad range of varied work activities performed in a wide variety of contexts, most of which are complex and non-routine. There is considerable responsibility and autonomy and control or guidance of others is often required.
  • Level 4
    Competence that involves the application of knowledge in a broad range of complex, technical or professional work activities performed in a variety of contexts and with a substantial degree of personal responsibility and autonomy. Responsibility for the work of others and the allocation of resources is often present.
  • Level 5
    Competence that involves the application of a range of fundamental principles across a wide and often unpredictable variety of contexts. Very substantial personal autonomy and often significant responsibility for the work of others and for the allocation of substantial resources features strongly, as do personal accountabilities for analysis, diagnosis, design, planning, execution and evaluation

Approximate academic equivalents

According to research by the London School of Economics

NVQs are not formally defined in terms of equivalence to conventional academic qualifications. However for the compilation of social statistics and other purposes, approximate equivalences have to be established. The following equivalences are used by the London School of Economics's Research Lab[1]

  • NVQ 1 = foundation GNVQ, three to four GCSEs at grades D-E, Business & Technology Education Council (BTEC) first certificate.
  • NVQ 2 = five GCSEs at grades A*-C, BTEC first diploma.
  • NVQ 3 = two or more A levels, BTEC Ordinary National Diploma (OND), City & Guilds Advanced Craft.
  • NVQ 4 = BTEC Higher National Certificate (HNC) or Higher National Diploma (HND), or City & Guilds Full Technological Certificate / Diploma
  • NVQ 5 =NQF 7-8

According to the Department for children,schools and families

According to the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and Office of the Qualifications and Examinations Regulator have created a list of equivalents that vary from the LSE ones listed above. They can be viewed on the Ofqual website

According to the University for the Creative Arts


  • City and Guilds level 1 & part 1,
  • RSA stage 1,
  • Vocational certificate (BTEC, BEC, SCOTBEC or SCOTVEC 1st or general certificate)
  • Basic literacy and numeracy qualifications, such as Wordpower and Numberpower


  • RSA Stage 2/ diploma,
  • Pitmans intermediate,
  • City and Guilds craft: (BTEC, BEC, SCOTBEC, TEC, SCOTEC or SCOTVEC 1st or general diploma),
  • 1 A level, GNVQ or SNVQ


  • City & Guilds (level 3, part 3 or advanced), 2 or more A levels, GNVQ/ SNVQ


  • equivalent diploma, First degree, nursing or teaching qualification, HND


  • equivalent diploma, Master's degree, PhD, PGC

According to City & Guilds

Licentiateship (post nominal: LCGI) sits on level 4 of the National Qualifications Framework,[2] and is therefore comparable to lower NVQ level 4.[3] Both Graduateship (GCGI) and Associateship (ACGI) are at level six of the National Qualifications Framework,[2] compared by OFQUAL to the highest category NVQs of level 4.[3] Membership (MCGI) is placed on NQF level 7, and Fellowship (FCGI) on level 8,[2] compared by OFQUAL to NVQs of level 5.[3] City & Guilds itself ties each NVQ to the level on the NQF with the same number.[2]

Both Graduateship (GCGI) and Associateship (ACGI) have been awarded,before the year 2004, at level 5 of NVQ.

The Associateship has continued to be conferred since 1887 upon graduates of Imperial College who have been awarded a Bachelor of Science (Engineering), Bachelor of Engineering, or Master of Engineering degree in a discipline previous studied at the City & Guilds College.

Both Graduateship (GCGI) and Associateship (ACGI) are at same academic level.

According to the European Qualifications Framework-EQF

The above gives only guidelines as to the equivalence of these qualifications as they measure different things. NVQs are a measure of competence to do a job whilst Academic qualifications generally measure the individual's knowledge of a subject.


The NVQ Framework classifies the economy into the following areas:

  • Tending animals, plants and land
  • Extracting and providing natural resources
  • Constructing
  • Engineering
  • Manufacturing
  • Transporting
  • Providing goods and services
  • Providing health, social and protective services
  • Providing business services
  • Communicating
  • Developing and extending knowledge and skill

See also


  1. ^ McIntosh, Steve and Steedman, Hilary (1999). Qualifications in the United Kingdom 1985-1999 (html tables). London School of Economics Research Laboratory Data Service [distributor].
  2. ^ a b c d City and Guilds: Qualification comparison. Accessed 2 October 2010.
  3. ^ a b c Explaining the National Qualifications Framework. Accessed 2 October 2010.

Further reading

  • WOOD, R., JOHNSON. C, Blinkhorn,S. & HALL, J. (1989) Boning, Blanching and Backtacking: Assessing Performance in the Workplace. Research and Development Series 46. Sheffield: Training Agency

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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