HNC Trade Union Organising and Representation

three sets of hands taking notes

Higher National qualifications provide practical skills and theoretical knowledge that meet the needs of employers. The HNC in Trade Union Organising and Representation (SCQF level 7) develops knowledge and skills in areas such as equality, health and safety, lifelong learning, and workplace representation.

This qualification is available through colleges. Candidates must be able to demonstrate that they have the support of their nominating trade union.

Why deliver this qualification

Higher National qualifications have been developed by SQA in partnership with colleges, universities and industry — so employers recognise that they provide sound evidence of ability.

There is a wide choice of optional Units, which will enable centres to tailor courses to match local needs. The Unit-based structure also supports flexibility. A Unit is typically 40 hours of timetabled learning.

Who does this qualification suit

The HNC is suitable for:

  • trade union representatives currently active in the workplace


Access is at the discretion of the centre.

Candidates should be currently active trade union representatives or hold a relevant trade union position in paid or voluntary work. They must be able to demonstrate that they have the support of their nominating trade union.

It is recommended that candidates possess a general background knowledge of trade union organising and representation prior to the course.

Candidates should also have good interpersonal and communication skills, both written and oral. These could be evidenced either by the achievement of nationally-recognised qualifications or by other methods which could include any of the following:

  • SQA qualifications (or their equivalent from other awarding bodies) eg English/Communication or other language-based subjects or SVQ to a minimum of SCQF level 5
  • process of application and interview
  • current relevant evidence from the workplace, eg a reference from the full-time official

Different combinations of relevant National Qualifications, vocational qualifications and equivalent qualifications from other awarding bodies may also be acceptable.


Achievement of the Group Award or the component Units could be used for continuing professional development (CPD) and to facilitate career progression, eg to full-time trade union organiser/representative.


Centres with devolved authority for approval should use their own internal approval process.

Centres without devolved authority will have to come forward for approval and should contact SQA’s Business Development Team for guidance.

Assessors and verifiers must be able to meet SQA’s general requirements for technical/occupational competence as outlined in the Guide to Approval.

How to assess

Each individual Unit specification gives detailed information on the Evidence Requirements and approaches to assessment for each Unit.

Ongoing course assessment will apply.

Assessment support packs are available for two Units of this qualification.

Where can you take this course?


HNC in Trade Union Organising and Representation

Group Award code: GG2E 15 (96 SCQF credit points)

The HNC consists of six mandatory Units (56 SCQF credit points) and a minimum of five optional Units (40 SCQF credit points).

For information on the structure of this qualification, please refer to the Group Award Specification (353 KB) document.