"The result of the educative process is capacity for further education." -John Dewey

Further education comes in many different forms, such as a university, college, vocational training, or weekend courses at an academic institute. Since there are so many options of higher education, students all over the UK are spoiled for choice!

But what about those who want to study and receive on the job practice at the same time? 

Have no fear, NVQ and BTEC certificates are here!

In today's article, we shall share with curious ones the functions of NVQ and BTEC qualifications that allow students to gain work experience and study simultaneously!

What are the NVQ and BTEC Accreditations?

learning outside the classroom
Is classroom learning at a university level, not for you? Consider an alternative course such as the NVQ or BTEC. (Source: Unsplash)

Before embarking on one of the many secondary schools leaving qualifications in England, Northern Ireland, or Wales, students must become familiar with what is involved while studying and how it will prepare them for the future.

Many pupils in the UK are familiar with the A-Levels, the GCSEs, and the International Baccalaureate; nevertheless, little do people realise the brilliance of an NVQ or BTEC qualification.

What and what? 

Without further delay, we will instruct curious readers as to what is the NVQ and BTEC qualification and how they can be studied in the UK after the GCSEs have been completed.


Known as the National Vocational Qualification in the United Kingdom, the NVQ is a work based award that is received through assessment and training after the GCSEs have been achieved.

Nevertheless, it is essential to state that since 2015, the NVQ framework was withdrawn and replaced by the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF). However, according to the government reforms, the term NVQ may be used if they "are based on recognised occupational standards, work-based and/or simulated work-based assessment and where they confer occupational competence."

In order to achieve a National Vocational Qualification, candidates needed to show that they had the ability to carry out their task to the required standards established by the NVQ association. 

All in all, it is essential to remember that the NVQ is a work-based way of learning which can be carried out at a college, school, or workplace. It is best suited for those who, after finishing the GCSEs, do not wish to attend university for years but who want to acquire some essential job-related skills.


The letters BTEC stand for Business and Technology Education Council and is a provider of secondary school leaving qualifications in either England, Northern Ireland, or Wales.

The BTEC qualifications have been around since 1984 and have been awarded by the Pearson Edexcel exam board since 1996. The purpose of the Business and Technology Education Council is to improve the quality and relevance of vocational training.

BTEC certificate programmes are much accepted by many universities and higher education centres in the UK. 

It is essential to state that BTEC qualifications are best suited for youngsters who want useful, hands-on work experience and training to decide upon their future career. A BTEC certificate can be studied at the same time as acquiring other accreditations or as a standalone programme.

Little do people know that a BTEC qualification is equivalent to many more popular certifications in the UK such as the GCSE (levels 1 and 2), A-Level (level 3), and university degrees (levels 6 and 7).

The BTECs are taken to learn many vocational subjects and the necessary skills to be a remarkable success in the job force.

It is important to state that, although part of the UK, Scotland has distinct education qualifications.

Distinct NVQ Levels and BTEC Qualifications in the UK

While it is true that both NVQ and BTEC accreditations provide hands-on work experience in vocational training, they differ in the manner in which they separate or divide the courses offered and skills to hone.

We shall now consider the classifications of both NVQ and BTEC as secondary school leaving qualifications. 

new skills training
Acquiring new skills to be valuable on the job is an essential aspect of the NVQ certificate. (Source: pixabay)

NVQ Levels

It doesn't matter if you're still at school or already on the job site, the NVQ provides all the necessary skills to kickstart a fantastic career by considering individual levels. Each one of the following levels involves the teaching and application of specific work-based competencies:

  • Entry Level: a perfect start for those who have no previous knowledge or qualifications. Entry-level students acquire information about the use of essential knowledge and skills.
  • Level One: an introduction of whichever subject matter you have decided to study, level one is brilliant for helping students cover routine tasks.
  • Level Two: in this section, NVQ pupils accomplish more complicated work tasks and acquire fantastic knowledge of their subject.
  • Level Three: as the levels go on, the difficulty increases and throughout level three, students must complete more demanding tasks. Independence is required at this level to show that skills are acquired; nevertheless, some guidance is necessary.
  • Level Four: at level four, there is more emphasis on specific and detailed aspects of learning; a necessary level for those who want to occupy managerial positions in the future.
  • Level Five: learning about work on a deeper level is acquired during degree five to be able to answer complex questions and provide valid answers; this is earned by gaining a high level of expertise from the previous levels.

It is essential to state that students do not have to rush to finish any of the previously mentioned levels for a particular date as if there was a time limit. Nevertheless, students usually take around a year to complete each of the first three levels.

Some of the most popular NVQ subjects offered include social care, teaching and childcare, plumbing, administration, business and management, catering, construction and property, and IT; all of these topics undergo the same level format.

It's now time to analyse the BTEC Qualifications!

BTEC Qualifications

Did you know that there are over 2,000 BTEC accreditations across 16 sectors? That's quite a bit for a secondary school leaving qualification!

The 16 essential sectors include applied science, art and design, business, childcare, construction, engineering, media, health and social care, hospitality, ICT, land-based, performing arts, public services, sport, and travel and tourism.

It is essential to mention that BTECs are primarily separated into three levels:

All three of the BTECs are relatively flexible, and students can easily take one of the courses while also studying for the GCSEs and A-Levels. The BTECs are divided into core units that pupils must analyse to acquire specific areas of knowledge, skills, and understanding.

After successful achievement of the BTEC Firsts, Nationals, or Apprenticeships, students can begin to enter the job force or continue higher education at a university.

Fun fact: over 90% of invidividuals who have finished a BTEC course received employment upon completion. 

No matter which vocational training course you decide upon, NVQ or BTEC, they are fantastic alternatives for those who want to receive instruction and work at the same time. 

BTEC and NVQ Examinations Dates for 2020

Similar to the GCSEs and the A-Levels, exam boards offering the BTEC and NVQ accreditations announce test dates some months in advance.


To allow students the necessary time to study and mentally prepare for the impending examination; this is kindly done because secondary school leaving certificates are no easy task and much time and effort are required.

Therefore, without further delay, the following are the 2020 test dates for the BTEC and NVQ qualifications:

  • BTEC: since the exam board of Edexcel Pearson has been offering BTECs since 1996; they are the industry leaders to consult for exam dates. According to their site, there are two exam periods: in the winter (January) and in the summer. Winter dates for the BTECs are in January from the 6 to the 24 greatly depending on the subjects or topics being assessed. As for the summer exam dates, BTECs are tested from May 11 to June 12.
  • NVQ: it is essential to state that you won't have to take any exams to complete the NVQ qualification; woohoo! Nevertheless, you will still be assessed based on your abilities to carry out tasks, on your portfolio, and the observation skills that you possess. Therefore, there are no exact dates for NVQ exams in 2020; it ultimately depends on when you finish a level and the availability of the professor.

There is no need to fret when undergoing exams if you are adequately prepared by having studied and reviewed the information.

Hiring a Personal Tutor to Ensure BTEC and NVQ Qualifications Success

the best teachers
With the help of a tutor, any academic qualification becomes manageable; say goodbye to mornings where you don't want to wake up! (Source: Unsplash)

Although BTEC and NVQ are on the job training qualifications, at times students may feel overwhelmed about the tasks at hand and the skills necessary to excel; especially those who are also studying GCSE or A-Level topics at the same time.

Therefore, what is a remedy to relieve stress and ensure success among students? 

Hiring a private tutor off of the Superprof website is the perfect remedy for academic woes. Our site is the best in Europe; we're not saying that because we're partial but because it's 100% true!

There are hundreds of professionally qualified tutors currently offering private classes to those who need help studying their BTEC or NVQ subject. Courses can either be taught in-person or online and range from £10-70 per hour.

Also, the absolute best part is that all tutors on the Superprof website offer the first lesson for free which means you don't have to feel obligated to keep studying with the same educator if it's not working out. 

In conclusion, we highly recommend both the NVQ and BTEC qualifications for an eye-opening study programme and brilliant future on the workforce.

Now take a look at how advantageous the International Baccalaureate can be to your future plans...

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