Just like GCSEs and A-levels, NVQs (National Vocational Qualifications) have a Scottish equivalent. But this time the names are pretty much identical. The SVQ (Scottish Vocational Qualification) is what you can get for training on the job in Scotland and it’s essentially the same thing as an NVQ. The Mix breaks it down for you.

A young couple are talking. They are discussing SVQs. This is a full-body image.

What is an SVQ?

SVQs are a credit and qualifications framework (SCQF) available in Scotland. We should probably mention that SVQ stands for Scottish Vocational Qualification. They can be taken at five SVQ levels, which are recognised by SCQF levels as well. These are SVQ level 1, SVQ level 2, SVQ level 3 and so on. Like NVQs, their purpose is to recognise real skills in real jobs.

If you want to find out more, then read this guide to SVQs by clicking here.

How do Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) work?

SVQs are based on standards, or ‘competencies’, that are decided by the higher ups in each sector, in partnership with the industry and awarding bodies. They’re structured in units which you’ll have to complete. On top of that you’ll be expected to do practical work as well as create a portfolio, with the help of an assessor. 

Who can get an SVQ qualification?

People of all ages. As long as you’re employed, studying at college, have a part-time job, or access to a work placement, you’re good to go. Plus, in certain circumstances, you can do them if you’re at school full-time.

Where can you do SVQs?

Usually your workplace will be the place to offer an SVQ, since it’ll help boost your skills and make it easier to do the practical elements of the assessment. Some colleges may offer them, but you’ll have to either find a different way to do the practical bits or just talk about your previous experiences for that part of the process. 

Do I have to pay to do an SVQ?

If you’re lucky, your workplace will pay for you as part of their staff development. Otherwise you’ll have to find a way to pay for it yourself. In which case, you should do some research to figure out what funding is available to you.

What kind of subjects can I do an SVQ in?

There are tonnes of different subjects you can choose to do an SVQ in – Over 650 to be precise. The general areas include:

  • Sales, marketing and distribution
  • Healthcare
  • Food, catering and leisure services
  • Construction and property
  • Social Service e.g. helping children and young people

How are SVQs assessed?

People working at Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) will be chosen to oversee the entire process. Someone will be assigned to you who’ll point out your strengths and weaknesses so that you know what to work on. Plus, they’ll help you keep a record of your work which will count towards the final assessment.

Keep in mind that you won’t get an A*-G after doing some sort of test. You’re being assessed as you go along. This means that the person you’re with, a.k.a the assessor, will simply sign off any units that you’ve completed as long as you’ve reached national occupational standards. At the end, you’ll be told that you’re either ‘competent’ or ‘not yet competent’. It’s also worth noting that in Scotland, the SQA is responsible for all aspects of the SVQ – its development, accreditation and awarding.

How long does it take to get an SVQ?

There isn’t a strict timeline for you to get the qualification. Generally speaking though, it takes a year to complete SVQ levels 1 and 2. And if you wanna do level 3, then you’re gonna have to add on another year.

Do I really need to do an SVQ if I can already do the job?

We’ll admit, writing down your process for chopping tomatoes when you’ve been doing it since you were 13 can seem pointless. But we promise there’s a method to the madness. It’ll prove that you’re good at your job and earn you a qualification that’ll help you stand out to employers. This means that you have the potential to get paid more than your non-qualified colleagues and will be considered for promotions. 

Basically, the answer to that question is a resounding yes. The pros literally blow the cons out of the water. Not to mention that more and more jobs are now seeing SVQs, or an equivalent qualification, as the bare minimum for getting hired. 

Where will an SVQ lead me?

On top of all the good stuff we’ve just mentioned, doing an SVQ means that you’ve opened a tonne of new doors; For example, with a level 3 you could go on to get a:

  • Higher National Certificate
  • Higher National Diploma
  • Foundation Degree
  • Qualification in other vocational specialisations

Next Steps

By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 10-Apr-2022