National Vocational Qualification
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National Vocational Qualificationa qualification in England and Wales recognizing competence in a vocational or technical subject, usually awarded after a period of vocational TRAINING and formal assessment. Competence is primarily defined as the ability to perform a task successfully. The NVQ system has been developed to encourage firms to train more systematically and to encourage training in transferable SKILLS (i.e. skills of use to more than one organization). The UK government's intention is that there will be national standards of competence for all occupations, established by lead bodies for each occupation/industry. Many NVQ subjects are highly specific and are primarily concerned with task performance rather than more diffuse conceptual understanding (the ability to understand as well as perform a task is sometimes referred to as competency). Some NVQs, however, are broader and less immediately technical in scope, and are perceived as more practically focused alternatives to traditional academic qualifications such as A-Levels: these tend to be known as General NVQs or more usually GNVQs. NVQs are arranged in a set of 5 levels, ranging from basic to professional level.
The NVQ system is a major attempt to improve on the UK's poor record in vocational training. Critics of NVQs allege, however, that many NVQ courses pay insufficient attention to the development of the conceptual skills necessary to understand technical processes fully. It is also difficult to identify discrete competencies required for many tasks and occupations, particularly those that are highly complex in character. See ACCREDITATION OF EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING.