Facts about NVQs: what's involved in studying them, how they are assessed and how long they take to complete.

NVQ stands for national vocational qualification. Each one includes practical work-related tasks. They're available in more than 1,000 subjects ranging from plumbing to hairdressing.

How are they studied?

NVQs can be based in a college, school, or workplace.

  • They're a good choice if you know what job you'd like to do.
  • There are five NVQ levels, so you can start at a level that suits you and work your way up.
  • There are no age limits and no special entry requirements, although you might need to complete a Level 2 NVQ before starting a Level 3 programme.

How are they assessed?

NVQs test your abilities in the workplace. You'll complete training and the following assessment to prove you can do certain work-related tasks:

  • Portfolio assessment – where you build up evidence of what you've done at work.
  • Observation – where an assessor watches you work and checks that you can do the required tasks.

The levels you'll be expected to reach are based on national standards for the particular job you want to do. Assessors sign off units when you've met these standards.

How long do they take?

  • NVQs don't have to be completed in a specific amount of time, but most people find it takes about a year to complete an NVQ Level 1, 2, or 3.
  • They can be taken by full-time employees or by school and college students who have a work placement or part-time job that enables them to develop the appropriate skills.