A Guide to NVQs for Business

NVQS can help you ensure that staff are up to their jobs, and send a signal to the world that you are committed to standards of excellence

A Guide to NVQs for Business

National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) can offer a range of benefits to your business – they are nationally recognised qualifications covering almost all occupations, from customer service all the way up to business management.

Because of this, even the smallest firms can benefit from NVQs in some way; most will have some staff who could benefit from a customer service-based NVQ, at least.

What can NVQs offer my business?

Essentially, NVQs can measure whether someone has the competence to do their job according to a set of standards, which are based on work performance. These standards are agreed and set according to industry, and are generally measured in different modules or ‘units’, each representing a different area of work performance. For example, the core units for the ‘Health and Social Care’ NVQ include ‘promote effective communication for and about individuals’, ‘reflect on and develop your practice’, and ‘promote the well-being and protections of children and young people’.

NVQs are available across five levels. Level 1 represents the basic threshold of performance, whereas level 5 represents performance at senior level.

As well as being used to improve standards through examination, businesses can use NVQs in a couple of other ways. Some business owners eschew the qualification aspect of NVQs altogether and simply use the standards to examine and improve performance in their own business, without recourse to an external assessor.

Other businesses use NVQs as part of an internationally-recognised performance standards system, such as Investors in People. NVQ certification for your employees can be used as further evidence to show the world you are committed to minimum standards of quality.

How do I get started with NVQs?

Follow these steps:

  • Work out where action is needed: Firstly, you need to select which areas need improvement. For example, you might want to improve coaching, or restructure a particular department. Select a pilot group of employees who will undergo the process in the priority area you have selected.
  • Consider looking for help and advice: Before you start putting a process in place, you should see what support, advice or funding your local business support organisation, trade association, or college can offer. You might be able to improve standards without the expense of conducting a formal NVQ process.
  • Obtain the standards: Visit a site such as NVQ Course to find a list of courses and awarding organisations. When you have selected an organisation that supplies the NVQ you are looking for, get in touch with them directly to obtain a copy of the standards.
  • Decide whether you are going to assess it: Remember that you don’t necessarily need to get involved in the formal NVQ process; you can simply use the standards as part of your own performance measurement system.
  • Decide how you are going to assess it: If you do decide to go down the formal route, you need to select an external provider to assess the NVQs and help develop your internal systems.
  • Work out how subsequent NVQs will be conducted: If you only plan to use NVQs sporadically, or you are a small company, the best option is normally to keep using external providers for subsequent NVQ processes. If you are a larger company, or will be using NVQs regularly for large groups of staff, you should consider becoming an approved NVQ centre.
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