About National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs)

Find out more about our NVQ and competence-based qualifications, what and how students learn, how they are assessed, and their opportunities for progression. 

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What are NVQs?

National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) are designed to demonstrate a learner's occupational competence.

They are usually delivered in the workplace, although some sectors and levels may be delivered in settings that replicate the working environment if this is explicitly stated by the relevant Sector Skills Council or Standards Setting Body.

Our NVQs are based on the National Occupational Standards, which define the skills, knowledge and understanding needed to do a particular job.

National Occupational Standards are set by Sector Skills Councils or Standards Setting Bodies in consultation with the sector. This means that our NVQs are designed to meet the changing needs of your area of work.

National Occupational Standards are statements of performance which describe what competent people in an area of work should be able to do. This may include:

  • the knowledge and understanding that underpin competent performance
  • current best practice
  • the standards required for competence
NVQs are available in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. If you’re in Scotland, you may be interested in our Edexcel SVQ (SCQF) qualifications.

Why take NVQs?

NVQs give many people the opportunity to work and achieve a qualification at the same time. They are usually studied part-time and can be taken as a stand-alone qualification, or as part of an Apprenticeship.

NVQs and competence-based qualifications offer proof that you can do a job to the required standard. They are offered at different levels, ranging from 1 to 7 depending on the sector. This means you can study at the level that’s right for your job role and level of experience, and progress accordingly.

NVQs are outcome-based with no fixed learning programme, giving centres the flexibility to deliver the course to meet each individual candidate’s needs.

What occupations do Edexcel NVQs cover?

NVQs are sector-specific qualifications. They are available for a huge variety of careers across a wide range of industry sectors, ranging from hairdressing and engineering to policing and design.

How are NVQs graded?

The overall grade for each qualification is a ‘pass’. To achieve this, you must pass all the required units studied on the course.

How are NVQs assessed?

Your assessment is based on the practical activity you undertake in the workplace and a portfolio of evidence to show that you meet occupational standards. A qualified assessor will observe you while you’re at work and question you to test your knowledge and understanding.

NVQs are assessed internally, with all internal assessment quality assured by qualified external verifiers.  

What can I do once I’ve taken an NVQ?

NVQs are designed to enhance your promotion prospects by allowing you to learn and demonstrate new skills.

Once you’ve completed your course, you may decide you want to continue with further training, like an NVQ at the next level or another related professional qualification.

If you've studied an NVQ at level 3, you could also achieve a full Apprenticeship by completing the remaining qualifications in the framework including the BTEC Specialist qualification for the sector.

Next steps

To see what occupations our NVQs cover, visit the Edexcel NVQ homepage.