Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs)

Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) are based on standards of competence (National Occupational Standards) that describe a candidate's ability to work in real conditions - having an SVQ is a kind of guarantee that a candidate is competent to the standards that the SVQ is based on. The National Occupational Standards (NOS) are developed by Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) on behalf of business and industry - as part of the development process, an SSC will liaise with employers within its sector.

SVQs are designed to benchmark people's skills against the national standards of competence by recognising the job-related skills and knowledge people need in work. Along with each set of National Occupational Standards there is a qualification structure and an assessment strategy. Where there are skills and knowledge gaps, SVQs can be used as the basis for a training framework.


There are five SVQ levels:

Level 1 - basic, routine and repetitive work skills
Level 2 - broad range of skills including non-routine activities and individual responsibility
Level 3 - supervisory skills
Level 4 - management skills
Level 5 - senior management skills

SQA currently offers approximately 650 SVQs. An information sheet for each SVQ is available from our website (

In other parts of the UK, vocational qualifications are developed, accredited and awarded by different bodies. In Scotland, SQA has a unique role - it carries out all three functions. Acting as an awarding body for an SVQ involves ensuring that quality of the qualification is upheld, so that it is credible and has value, as well as issuing certificates. SQA often does this in partnership with bodies from industry which have a similar role.

Levels and codes

All SVQs and SVQ Units are assigned a '4+2' identifying code, eg:

G7LN 22

These are the '2' level-indicator codes:

SVQ level 1 - 21
SVQ level 2 - 22
SVQ level 3 - 23
SVQ level 4 - 24

SVQs are now assigned a level in the SCQF (see the SCQF section) during the design and accreditation process. As a rough guide, this is the way SVQ levels correspond to SCQF levels:

SVQ level 1 - SCQF level 4
SVQ level 2 - SCQF level 5
SVQ level 3 - SCQF level 6
SVQ level 4 - SCQF level 8
SVQ level 5 - SCQF level 11

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