Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) are ‘badges of competence’ that are defined nationally by industry. They are based on National Occupational Standards (NOS), which define exactly what people have to do to be competent in an occupation. There are SVQs for nearly all occupations in Scotland.

Given current economic conditions, government and business organisations have urged that employers sustain or increase their investment in training to ensure a strong recovery for the Scottish economy.

SVQs focus on job skills and knowledge, and can make a major contribution to organisations and businesses — in terms of ensuring that the workforce is well trained and with up-to-date skills. SVQs are a cost-effective, structured, and measurable system of staff development, offering increased efficiency, higher productivity, and improved staff morale.

There are currently 138 private sector employers and 95 public sector employers operating as SQA centres in Scotland. SVQs account for 50% of all SQA courses taken by individuals from private sector employers and 84% of all SQA courses taken by individuals from public sector employers.

There are also 274 private sector training providers operating as SQA centres in Scotland. SVQs account for 82% of all SQA courses taken in these centres.

There were 44,232 SVQ entries in 2008 over the five levels. The majority of entries (over 22,000) were at level 2 (SCQF level 5), with almost 18,000 at level 3 (SCQF level 6 or 7). While there are far fewer entries at higher levels, entries for level 4 (SCQF level 8 or 9) SVQs increased by 14% in 2008.

The table below shows the trend in SVQ entries from 2004 to 2008, by level.

  2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 Change 2007–2008
Level 1 (SCQF level 4) 1,634 1,944 1,735 1,875 1,745 -7%
Level 2 (SCQF level 5) 21,302 21,664 20,364 21,940 22,029 0%
Level 3 (SCQF level 6 or 7) 19,359 20,742 20,033 19,193 17,772 -7%
Level 4 (SCQF level 8 or 9) 1,809 2,749 2,592 2,295 2,624 14%
Level 5 (SCQF level 11 or 12) 15 50 77 53 62 17%
Total 44,119 47,149 44,801 45,356 44,232 -2%

Entries for levels 4 and 5 (SCQF levels 8 to 12), while still comparatively small, now make up 6% of all SVQ entries. In line with the Scottish Government’s skills strategy, we believe the availability of higher-level SVQs can help to meet Scotland’s skills needs and ensure a steady supply of skilled workers to enhance our global competitiveness.

SVQs can also contribute to lifelong learning. Again, especially given the current economic circumstances, there has been an emphasis on the need for individuals to continually up-skill and re-train. While 38% of SVQ entries came from people aged under 20, entries are spread across all age groups in Scotland, with 26% of entries coming from those aged 40 or older. Predictably, perhaps, for a qualification based on occupational competence, entries for higher-level SVQs tend to come from those individuals in older age groups.

The chart below shows 2008 SVQ entries by age group — for a full breakdown by level, please see the Annual Statistical Report.

2008 SVQ Entries by Age Group

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