Understanding SQA Qualifications

The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) helps to make the relationships between qualifications clearer. It covers achievements such as those from school, college, university, and many work-based qualifications.Qualifications in the SCQF are compared using two measures: level and credit. The level of a qualification shows how difficult the learning is, and the amount of credit shows the size of the qualification.

This ready reckoner shows SQA Qualifications in the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework.

You can also view our interactive ready reckoner

National Qualifications

National Qualifications (NQs) are one of the most important types of qualification in Scotland. Almost everyone leaving school or college today has one or more NQ.

NQs are taken by students in secondary schools and colleges (and some training centres). They cover subjects to suit everyone’s interests and skills, from Chemistry to Construction, History to Hospitality, and Computing to Care.

The types of NQs available are:

  • National 1 to National 5
  • National Units
  • National Courses
  • Group Awards
  • Highers
  • Advanced Highers
  • Skills for Work
  • Baccalaureates

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Introduction to Work Place Skills (IWPS)

The Introduction to Work Place Skills (IWPS) is a qualification designed specifically for young people aged 16-19 that have a positive “can do” attitude and are preparing for the world of work, but need some support to develop their core skills and employability skills. Young people will get an employer assessed work experience placement of a minimum of 150 hours.

The IWPS will allow learners to develop their underpinning core skills, and to start to develop competence in a working situation. As some young people may not be quite ready for a real work environment, simulated workshops, sheltered and supported work environments, as well as real work environments can all be utilised for the work placement element of the IWPS.

The IWPS encompasses existing SQA nationally recognised employability and core skills units which supports the Skills Development Scotland customised unit. These units form a quality framework around the delivery of good quality work experience at SCQF level 3.

Successful completion of this qualification gives the young person evidence of their core skills and experience, from which they can progress on to the Certificate of Work Readiness, further training, education or employment.

This qualification is available through colleges and training providers working in partnership with employers.

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Certificate of Work Readiness (CWR)

The Certificate of Work Readiness is an award designed specifically for young people who are ready for their first experience of the world of work, but need some guided support. The certificate includes a unique employer assessed “real life” work experience placement, providing a meaningful qualification and a credible standard employers can recognise and trust.

Successful completion of this award offers the young person greatly improved job prospects and transferable skills in self evaluation, planning and goal setting that can be applied to any workplace.

This qualification is available through colleges and training providers working in partnership with employers.

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Professional Development Awards (PDAs)

Professional Development Awards (PDA) are aimed at developing the skills of those already in professional employment.

They are principally designed for those already in a career or vocation who wish to extend or broaden their skills base. They may also be embedded within another qualification such as HNC/HND

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Awards

SQA Awards are small, flexible qualifications, suitable for any type of learner. Awards are designed to address and provide proof of specific skills. The awards include:

  • Employability
  • Leadership
  • Volunteering Skills
  • Steps to work
  • Safe Road User
  • Personal Finance

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Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs)

Scottish Vocational Qualifications are based on national standards which are drawn up by people from industry, commerce and education. There are SVQs for nearly all occupations in Scotland, from forestry to IT, management to catering, journalism to construction.

Discover how you can gain paid employment combined with the opportunity to train for jobs at craft, technician and management level.

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Modern Apprenticeships

Modern Apprenticeships offer anyone aged over 16 paid employment combined with the opportunity to train for jobs at craft, technician and management level.

They are designed to help create a high-calibre workforce. They are supported by the Confederation of Business and Industry, the Trade Union Congress and a wide range of employers. All the Modern Apprenticeship frameworks are developed by the industry or sector in which they will be implemented.

An overview on Modern Apprenticeships is available on the SQA website and for specific information on individual Modern Apprenticeships can be found on the Skills Development Scotland website.

Higher National Qualifications

HNQs are offered internationally by colleges, universities and many other training centres, Higher National Certificates (HNCs), Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) and Professional Development Awards (PDAs) are specially designed to meet the needs of employers. HNQs can also give candidates access to the 2nd or 3rd year entry at University

HNQs can also give candidates access to the 2nd or 3rd year entry at University and membership to professional bodies.

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Wider Achievement

SQA’s Awards recognise the life and work skills that learners gain from activities they may already be taking part in at school, at college or elsewhere — such as sport, mentoring, voluntary work or fund-raising activities. In common with some other qualifications in our portfolio they have been designed to recognise wider achievement.

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