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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. At comprehensive schools, Level 1 is equivalent to one GCSE at grade D-G.
  • 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. At comprehensive schools, Level 2 is equivalent to one GCSE at A*-C
  • 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. At Sixth Form Colleges, Level 3 can be worth 1-5 A levels at A*-C.
  • 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 account abilities for analysis, diagnosis, design, planning, execution and evaluation

For Year 10 students starting NVQ courses in September 2013, the qualification will not be equivalent to a GCSE.

  • Level 6
Award 1 to 12 units, Certificate 12 to 36 units, Diploma 37 and above, approximately equivalent to a Bacholors/Honours degree level qualification.
  • Level 7
Award 1 to 12 units, Certificate 12 to 36 units, Diploma 37 and above, approximately equivalent to post-Graduate diploma/certificate or Masters degree level qualification.
  • Level 8
Award 1 to 12 units, Certificate 12 to 36 units, Diploma 37 and above, approximately equivalent to Doctoral degree level, (although it is often the case that Doctorial degree are subject to a lengthy, research project under minimal guidance that offer an original contribution to an academic subject area; an NVQ lacks most of these elements, therefore while of the same standard and degree of specialision but not of the same merit in regards to originality of contribution.

[1] .

Approximate academic equivalents

=== 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[2]

  • NVQ 1 = foundation GNVQ, three to four GCSEs at grades D-E, Business & Technology Education Council (BTEC) first certificate.
  • NVQ 2 = four or 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

Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and Office of the Qualifications and Examinations Regulator have a list of academic equivalents that varies from LSE's:

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, Foundation degree, nursing or teaching qualification, HNC


  • equivalent diploma, HND


  • equivalent to Undergrad Certificate, Honors degree


  • equivalent Graduate diploma, Masters degree


  • equivalent Post Graduate diploma, Doctoral degree

City & Guilds

Main article: City and Guilds

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

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.


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


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

  • Qualifications and Curriculum Authority: NVQs
  • Edexel NQF grid
  • National Qualifications Framework
  • Scottish Qualifications Authority
  • AimHigher PDF
  • Comparing Qualifications across countries
  • NVQ Course Information
  • Qualification Comparisons
  • Oxford Brookes University qualification framework
  • NVQ Courses
  • University of Cambridge International Qualifications
  • NVQ Courses
  • NVQ Training
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