National Qualification Group Awards (NQGA) is the term which encompasses National Certificates (NCs) and National Progression Awards (NPAs).
National Certificates (NCs)
National Certificates are designed to prepare people for employment, career development or progression to more advanced study at HNC/HND level. They also aim to develop a range of transferable knowledge including Core Skills.
These certificates are aimed at 16-18 year olds or adults in full-time education and are at SCQF Levels 2-6. Each one has specific aims relating to a subject or occupational area.
For example, the flexible Art and Design based programme gives learners the opportunity to develop creative expression by learning an applied range of complementary skills and processes. And, the NC in Acting and Theatre Performance provides learners with the opportunity to progress in a number of ways thanks to a wide range of optional Units to complement the existing core ones.
There are also NCs in subjects as diverse as Sound Production, Technical Theatre and Child, Health and Social Care.
National Progression Awards (NPAs)
National Progression Awards (NPAs) are also designed to help people reach their goals. NPAs are available in a variety of sectors, from things like Construction and Childcare to new areas such as Digital Literacy and Social Software. They're aimed at assessing a defined set of skills and knowledge in specialist vocational areas. They also link to National Occupational Standards, which are the basis of SVQs.
NPAs are at SCQF Levels 2-6 and are successfully delivered in partnership between schools, colleges and employers. Although many schools get involved, they’re mainly used by colleges for short study programmes, such as return-to-work courses or part-time learning for those already in work. The NPA Enterprise and Employability is a good example of this in action.
Enterprise skills help individuals adapt to the world of work, not just a specific role. Areas such as self-employment are covered and people are encouraged to be more innovative in their approach. Employability skills also make individuals more likely to gain employment and be successful in their chosen occupation. Key skills here include time management, working with others and managing people.
For further information on this course, go to www.sqa.org.uk/enterprise
Another good example of an NPA is PC Passport (SCQF Levels 4-6). This offers a suite of highly vocational IT qualifications available from beginner to advanced level (focusing on industry-standard software and skills).
Other NPAs include Musical Theatre, Acting and Performance, Sound Production, Music Business and Social Software. The NPA in Social Software (SCQF Level 4) was developed with the help of schools and gives learners of all ages the knowledge required to use the internet safely and legally.
Both NPAs and NCs provide those preparing for work with opportunities to develop skills much sought after by employers. But the main benefit of these qualifications is that they change mindsets. They encourage learners to think differently and aim higher. As such, these qualifications are relevant to anyone, including those considering self-employment.
View from a College
In this short video clip Janis Carson*, Acting Principal of Glasgow Metropolitan College (now City of Glasgow College) explains why and how her college has got involved with the NQGA Development Programme to enhance the college's curriculum.
*Janis Carson is now Vice Principal and Project Sponsor at City of Glasgow College
Download transcript for View from a College (24 KB).