National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) were work-based awards in England, Wales and Northern Ireland that are achieved through assessment and training. The regulatory framework supporting NVQs was withdrawn in 2015 and replaced by the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF), although the term "NVQ" may be used in RQF qualifications if they "are based on recognised occupational standards, work-based and/or simulated work-based assessment and where they confer occupational competence".[1]

To achieve an NVQ, candidates had to prove that they had the ability (competence) to carry out their job to the required standard. NVQs were based on National Occupational Standards that described the "competencies" expected in any given job role. Typically, candidates worked towards an NVQ that reflected 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 were five levels of NVQ ranging from Level 1, which focuses on basic work activities, to Level 5 for senior management.

In Scotland the approximately equivalent qualification is the Scottish Vocational Qualification.


NVQs are competence-based qualifications. The five levels of NVQ are defined as having the following competencies:[2]

  • Level 1 - Competence, which involves the application of knowledge and skills in the performance of a range of varied work activities most of which may be routine and predictable.
  • Level 2 - Competence, which involves the application of knowledge and skills in a significant range of varied work activities, performed in a variety of contexts. Some of the activities are complex or non-routine, and there is some individual responsibility or autonomy. Collaboration with others, perhaps through membership of a work group or team, may often be a requirement.
  • Level 3 - Competence, which involves the application of knowledge and skills in a broad range of varied work activities performed in a wide variety of contexts and 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, which involves the application of knowledge and skills in a broad range of complex, technical, or professional work activities performed in a wide 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, which involves the application of skills and a significant range of fundamental principles and complex techniques across a wide and often unpredictable variety of contexts. Very substantial personal autonomy and often a significant responsibility for the work of others and for the allocation of substantial resources feature strongly, as do personal accountabilities for analysis and diagnosis, design, planning, execution and evaluation.

Approximate academic equivalents

Equivalents published by the UK government

The combined UK Government website Gov.uk lists the equivalents for academic qualifications between the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) and the framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ).[3]

RQF/FHEQ Level NVQ level RQF examples FHEQ examples
  • Entry level certificate
  • Entry level Skills for Life
  • Entry level award, certificate and diploma
  • Entry level Functional Skills
  • Entry level Foundation Learning
1 1
  • GCSE (grades D-G)
  • Key Skills level 1
  • NVQ level 1
  • Skills for Life level 1
  • Foundation diploma
  • BTEC award, certificate and diploma level 1
  • Foundation Learning level 1
  • Functional Skills level 1
  • OCR National
2 2
  • GCSE (grades A*-C)
  • Key Skills level 2
  • NVQ level 2
  • Skills for Life level 2
  • Higher diploma
  • BTEC award, certificate and diploma level 2
  • Functional Skills level 2
3 3
  • AS and A level
  • Advanced Extension Award
  • Cambridge International award
  • International Baccalaureate
  • Key Skills level 3
  • NVQ level 3
  • Advanced diploma
  • Progression diploma
  • BTEC award, certificate and diploma level 3
  • BTEC National
  • OCR National
  • Cambridge National
4 4
  • Certificate of higher education
  • Key Skills level 4
  • NVQ level 4
  • BTEC Professional award, certificate and diploma level 4
  • Certificate of higher education
  • HNC
  • Fire and safety forum , Specialist Certification NVQ level 4
  • International safety specialist certification
  • ISSC
  • HND
  • NVQ level 4
  • Higher diploma
  • BTEC Professional award, certificate and diploma level 5
  • HNC
  • HND
  • Diploma of higher education
  • Diploma of further education
  • Foundation degree
  • HND
  • Fire and Safety Forum
  • Diploma NVQ level 5
  • International Authorised Safety Professional
  • IASP
  • NVQ level 4
  • BTEC Advanced Professional award, certificate and diploma level 6
  • Bachelor's degree
  • Graduate certificate
  • Graduate diploma
  • Fire and Safety Forum
  • Advanced Diploma NVQ level 6
  • International Authorized Safety Trainer
  • IAST
7 5
  • BTEC Advanced Professional award, certificate and diploma level 7
  • Fellowship and fellowship diploma
  • Postgraduate certificate
  • Postgraduate diploma
  • NVQ level 5
  • Master's degree
  • Postgraduate certificate
  • Postgraduate diploma
  • Fire and Safety Forum
  • Postgraduate Diploma NVQ level 7
  • International Authorized Safety Research Fellow
  • NVQ level 5
  • Vocational qualifications level 8
  • Fire and Safety Forum
  • Masters Diploma NVQ level 8
  • International Safety Ambassador
  • ISA

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[4]

  • 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

City and Guilds

Licentiateship (post nominal: LCGI) sits on level 4 of the National Qualifications Framework,[5] and is therefore comparable to lower NVQ level 4.[6] Both Graduateship (GCGI) and Associateship (ACGI) are at level six of the National Qualifications Framework,[5] compared by OFQUAL to the highest category NVQs of level 4.[6] Membership (MCGI) is placed on NQF level 7, and Fellowship (FCGI) on level 8,[5] compared by OFQUAL to NVQs of level 5.[6] City & Guilds itself ties each NVQ to the level on the NQF with the same number.[5]

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


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. ^ "After the QCF: A New Qualifications Framework - Decisions on Conditions and Guidance" (PDF). Gov.uk. 1 September 2015. p. 4. Retrieved 2016.
  2. ^ "Vocational Qualifications" (PDF). Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. 23 March 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  3. ^ "Compare different qualifications". Gov.uk. Retrieved 2016.
  4. ^ McIntosh, Steve and Steedman, Hilary (1999). Qualifications in the United Kingdom 1985-1999 (HTML tables). London School of Economics Research Laboratory Data Service [distributor].
  5. ^ a b c d City and Guilds: Qualification comparison. Accessed 2 October 2010.
  6. ^ a b c Explaining the National Qualifications Framework Archived 2010-05-27 at the Wayback Machine.. Accessed 2 October 2010.

Further reading

  • Wood, R.; Johnson, C.; Blinkhorn, S.; Anderson, S.; Hall, J. (1989). Boning, Blanching and Backtracking: Assessing Performance in the Workplace. Sheffield: Training Agency.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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