National Vocational Qualifications/Vocational Qualifications are job-related qualifications that show you can do a specific job

If most of your GCSE grades are graded 3-1, you may start on a VRQ (vocationally recognised qualification), which is a level 1 qualification, before moving on to a level 2 NVQ/VQ.

Popular ones include: social care, retail, motor vehicle work, electrical installation, business administration, hairdressing, leisure and recreation, construction, engineering and childcare.

NVQs/VQs are practical qualifications aimed at learning in the work place including for:

  • apprentices
  • people in work
  • students on some vocational courses at college or school, such as catering or haidressing. 
  • at 16 you usually take a NVQ level 1, 2 or 3
  • intermediate apprentices work towards level 2 qualifications
  • advanced apprentices work towards level 3.

Entry qualifications vary. You may have to take an entry or selection test. For level 3 you may need GCSEs at grade 5, some employers may accept a grade 4, (similar to an old grade C) or equivalent.

Higher apprenticeships involve doing a Level 4 NVQ and are usually studied by apprentices who have completed their Level 3 NVQ or students who have passed A levels and are interested in an alternative to university.

Assessment is through practical tests and a range of evidence, which show you can complete tasks well.

Look on GOV.UK for what different qualification levels mean

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