27 August 2007

Welcome to this special edition of our e-zine for private and public sector training organisations. We hope you find this useful. Tell us what you think.


PHOTO: Dr Janet Brown, SQA Chief ExecutiveI am very pleased to welcome readers to this special issue of the SQA E-zine. This issue is for training organisations, and is part of a programme of work that we are undertaking with you.  We would like to better meet your needs and we will be working more closely with you to enhance the service that we currently offer to you.

We appreciate the importance of your work to both SQA and the Scottish economy. In 2005/06, over 400 Training Organisations used our qualifications, and entered over 30,000 candidates for a wide variety of qualifications. We intend to continue improving our links with you, and working to ensure that you are more aware of how we can help you. I hope that this issue of the E-zine will play its part in that process.

Janet Brown
Chief Executive

Website Improvements

IMAGE: Sample of new homepageOur website ( has been redesigned to incorporate our refreshed logo and a major site update. This redesign goes some way towards improving the usability of the site and ease of access to content.

What this means for you is that the ‘who are you’ menu is no longer used. Instead, you can select ‘Information for centres’ from the homepage. This opens a resource page which lists all relevant links and downloads for centre staff. You will continue to find a wealth of information, guidance documents, publications and downloads available from this section.

Though the website is recognised as a key resource, problems with the content organisation, structure and search facility prompted the current improvements. More work will be necessary in the coming months to review the wider site structure and ensure that it meets customer needs, for example we are planning an area of the website specifically for you and would welcome your views.

The revised site is now online at — if you have any queries or feedback on the changes, please contact us by e-mailing

PC Passport

LOGO: PC Passport

Launched in early 2004, PC Passport is one of our fastest growing qualifications. With over 30,000 candidates per year, it has become the second most popular Information Technology qualification in Scotland.

There are three levels in PC Passport:

PC Passport is complemented, with a wide range of learning materials and assessments to support both the SQA centre and the learner. Links with strategic partners, Microsoft and Certiport, ensure PC Passport is aligned to internationally recognised vendor certifications like IC3 and Microsoft Office Specialist.

Other strategic partnerships with educational publishers Leckie & Leckie have produced a suite of learning materials to compliment the award at all levels.

Recently refreshed, PC Passport continues to provide relevant skills for the community and the workplace.

PC Passport offers the learner a genuine experience covering IT disciplines required to work in a modern world. It attracts ILA funding and is aligned to the National Occupational Standards for IT Users.

Find out more about PC Passport.



In March 2007 a group of migrant worker factory employees in Strathaird Salmon (part of the Young’s Seafood group) in Inverness were given the opportunity to study Access 3 level SQA English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Units in the workplace and the company is already benefiting in areas such as improved communication, greater understanding of health and safety issues, fewer errors, less waste, improved efficiency, and improved staff morale and customer perception. Strathaird Salmon is a leading supplier of premium quality Scottish salmon products to most UK multiple and independent retailers including Sainsburys, Harrods, Jenners and Harvey Nicols.

With a workforce comprising high numbers of migrant workers from Eastern Europe and Iraq the company recognised that it was vital that all employees be able to understand and respond to spoken and written English communication in key areas such as food hygiene, quality standards and health and safety. Kevin Gates, Site Director, states, 'We felt that it was part of our corporate responsibility to provide fair employment conditions such as help with accommodation, flexible working as well as provision of on-site English at Work classes.'

The SQA ESOL classes ran for 10 weeks and were delivered four times a week in the factory by a WEA tutor, led by Judie Holliday, English at Work Programme Co-ordinator with the Workers Educational Association in Inverness. As lessons were on-site the tutor was able to adapt lessons to meet the language needs of the employer as they arose and covered subjects such as Contracts of Employment, Hygiene, Health and safety, HR policies etc.

LOGO: Young'sRead the full case studyLOGO: WEA

Find out more about ESOL.

Do you need work ready school leavers?

Skills for Work qualifications deliver employability skills.PHOTO: Skills for Work construction

The new Skills for Work qualifications equip young people with the skills they need for the world of work. They provide a variety of practical experiences that are linked to particular careers including construction, financial services, hospitality and hairdressing.

The qualifications help young people to develop important knowledge and skills that will serve them well for the rest of their lives. These include developing an understanding of the workplace, including their own PHOTO: Skills for Work Hardressing candidatesresponsibilities (eg time-keeping, appearance, customer care), how to evaluate their own progress, how to analyse and solve problems and how to be adaptable and have a positive attitude to change.

From August 2007 the range of Skills for Work Courses available expanded to 13 across 10 subjects. The levels covered are Access 3, Intermediate 1, Intermediate 2 and Higher.

Young people taking the new Skills for Work Courses will normally spend some of their time at a local college, or other training organisation. This will mean learning in a different environment, meeting new people and facing new challenges. The students themselves have flourished in what they view as a more adult environment.

Following a succesful pilot in a small number of centres there are 1,167 students who now hold a Skills for Work qualification. These numbers will rise sharply in the coming years.

Find out more about Skills for Work Courses.

New SVQs in Food Manufacture

Improve, the Sector Skills Council for the Food and Drink Manufacturing sector, has recently completed the review of its National Occupational Standards and N/SVQs at levels 1, 2 and 3.  The structures of the new awards are very flexible and include a wide range of optional Units.  At level 2, there are 10 different pathways and at level 3, six pathways. 

SQA will be seeking accreditation to offer these new SVQs soon.  The existing awards expire in December 2007, but we would expect to be able to offer the new SVQs by mid October. 

For more details on the new SVQs please click on the links below:

Level 1 Food Manufacture

Level 2 Food Manufacture: Production Control Skills ; Production Improvement Skills ; Craft Bakery Skills ; Process Bakery Skills ; Meat & Poultry Processing Skills ; Butchery Retail Skills ; Retail & Service Support Skills ; Facilities Support Skills ; Distribution Skills ; Livestock Droving Skills

Level 3 Food Manufacture: Specialist Craft Bakery Skills ; Specialist Meat & Poultry Skills ; Specialist Management Skills ; Specialist Supply Chain Skills ; Specialist Technical Skills ; Specialist Improvement Skills

Find out more.

Professional Development Awards: serving learners, serving centres, serving industry

Professional Developments Awards (PDAs) are designed for people who are already in a career or vocation and who wish to extend or broaden their skills base. However, in some cases they are designed for those wishing to enter employment. They assess and certificate progression in a defined set of specialist occupational skills.

Since autumn 2006 we have embarked on a comprehensive modernisation programme of all PDAs, which is scheduled to run to December 2010.  Existing PDAs entitled Certificate, Advanced Certificate, Diploma and Advanced Diploma will all be modernised under the new design principles.  This will involve:

The PDA Modernisation Project is designed to ensure that the awards are more flexible in terms of size, delivery and assessment, whilst maintaining a fitness for purpose that attends to the needs of rapidly evolving industrial practice and employer and employee skills needs.

PDAs are also being developed at SCQF level 9 and above, to offer industry high level CPD for current and prospective staff; specialised enskilling for graduates; and alternative – work-related/based – higher education progression for successful HND and Modern Apprenticeship (SVQ level 4) candidates.

We are happy to work in partnership with employers, Sector Skills Councils, professional bodies, colleges, training organisations and other stakeholders to develop PDAs to help meet the skills needs for a successful, dynamic Scottish economy.  If you wish more information, please contact John Lewis, PDA Development Manager on 0845-213 5547 or

Oil and Gas

IMAGE: SQA Oil and Gas





There have been many recent developments in this exciting sector and SQA has appointed a new Business Development Project Manager, David Adcock, who will join us in September to help support our continued progress in the Oil and Gas sector. 

SQA will be hosting stand 1508 at Offshore Europe in September. This is a major event in the industry with over 1,400 exhibitors and many of the leading companies and operators from around the globe. Why not drop in and speak to us if you are attending.

In upcoming qualification activity the following SVQs are to be reaccredited:

There are also new assessor guidelines for these SVQs which will be sent out to centres who are approved to deliver the awards in due course. Keep up-to-date with some interesting developments in the coming months by keeping an eye on our website.

Find out more about SQA oil and gas.

Care Scotland

LOGO: SQA Care ScotlandCare Scotland is a team of SQA staff dedicated to serving the learning and development needs of the Social Services workforce (Social Care, Early Education and Childcare and Housing Support) and Health and Community Justice sectors. The team provides specific knowledge and expertise to offer an informed and reliable service to employers, centres, colleges and individuals in relation to HN, SVQ, PDA and SPA qualifications. We believe that promoting qualifications for staff results in better services for vulnerable individuals.

We are a member of the NHS VQ Group whose aim is to promote the value of Vocational Qualifications within the National Health Service in Scotland and to share knowledge, experience and learning. It also establishes and maintains strategic links with other national initiatives allied to competence based Vocational Learning.

Find out more about Care Scotland.

Customised Awards

IMAGE: Customised Awards HandbookSQA has a group of qualifications classified as Customised Awards. The Customised Awards service is a commercial activity, where the cost of the award development, certification, and quality assurance is fully covered by the customer.

Criteria: Customised Awards are competence-based vocational qualifications developed to meet the skills requirements of an individual company or organisation. They are aimed at customers whose qualification requirements are in an area where there is no suitable mainstream provision. This can be because mainstream alternatives are too generic, candidate numbers may be low, or they are particularly seeking exclusivity through award ownership. 

Development: Customised Awards are flexible in design and level to enable them to meet the requirements of individual customers, and can be levelled on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). The structure of a Customised Award is similar to SQA’s mainstream provision. However, they can comprise of existing national Units (NQ and HN), Units from National Occupational Standards, or customised Units.

Quality Assurance: They are subject to SQA’s mainstream quality assurance procedures and criteria, and must be delivered through an SQA approved centre.

Certification: The Customised Awards certification package is the same as SQA’s mainstream provision, with the exception of the commemorative certificate where in addition to the SQA logo there is room for our partner’s logo.  There is also the option of adding a ‘Recognition Statement’ which details professional endorsement or recognition.

Further information, including the Customised Awards Handbook, can be found on our Website.

Find out more about External Verifiers and their training

From August onwards we have embarked on our 2007/2008 annual updates and training events for External Verifiers (EVs). This year we are holding these events in Dundee College and are happy if any training organisation staff involved in the delivery of our qualifications wish to come along as observers. Please note that spaces are limited and will be on a first come first served basis.

The dates of annual updates for 2007 are 13 & 15 September and 20 October. Please contact Mark Hood in Assessment Standards for further information on 0845 213 5365.

It may also be the case that you are currently involved in the delivery of our qualifications and may wish to apply to become an EV in your own subject area. We are always keen to appoint EVs across the full spectrum of our centres and anyone at one of our centres wishing to apply should contact our Assessment Planning Team in Dalkeith for further details and an application pack.

Professional Development Workshops

We have added further workshop topics to our 2007 programme. During September and October, we are running the following:

Introduction to A1 (new workshop)  19 September   Glasgow   £80    Half Day
Introduction to V1(new workshop)   24 October         Glasgow   £80    Half Day
Making Verification Work for You      30 October         Glasgow   £80    Half Day

If any of these workshops would help with your Continuing Professional Development, please access the links below for further information and our Registration form.  Alternatively, call our Customer Contact Centre on 0845 279 1000 where someone will be happy to help. Our 2007 programme to date has been sold out.  Please note that places at each workshop are limited, so please try and book early to avoid disappointment.

Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to working with you.

Full details of our 2007 workshops.

SQA Data Services

Our Data Services provide support and guidance to all our approved centres through the Registration, Entries, Results and Certification processes. To encourage centres to use our service we have been holding surgeries throughout Scotland in 2007. The surgeries are designed to allow centres to allocate time with a Data Services team member and were organized due to previous feedback from centres. 

We want to ensure our services are relevant to your needs. An example of information and guidance you could receive is as follows:

Spaces are allocated on a first come first served basis. To ensure each centre is given individual attention we have limited the amounts of spaces available although centres can have more than one member of staff attending.

We still have spaces on the remaining surgeries:

To book a space please visit and complete the attached form and send to

Our SCQF Credit Rating Service

LOGO: SQA Credit Rating Service

As awareness of the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) grows, more submissions are being made to our Credit Rating Service. These include a wide variety of both qualifications and learning programmes.

The Credit Rating Service offers organisations the opportunity to have their provision positioned in the SCQF. Once credit rated on the SCQF it is possible to compare qualifications and learning programmes of different types and measure achievement more effectively. This ensures that both learners and employers are able to understand qualifications and learning programmes and how an individuals learning can progress.

Organisations whose provision has recently been credit rated include Scottish Schools Equipment Research Centre (SSERC), ASDAN, Scottish Police College, City & Guilds and The Chartered Management Institute (CMI). CMI stated:

‘The Chartered Management Institute is the professional body for managers in the UK with over 70,000 members. Our members come from different levels of management from the private, public and third sectors. As a major awarding body in the area of management and leadership it is important that the Institute's professional qualifications are fit for purpose across this wide range of management experience and have an easily transferable value. SCQF provides that common currency providing easy recognition across all levels and sectors. The credit rating will help our members and employers generally to better understand the range of qualifications we offer and the value of these qualifications beyond their inherent worth.’

Ian Andrew, CMI's Manager in Scotland says ‘SCQF recognition can only add value to our already well respected qualifications. The levelling and credit rating brings tangible benefits to students, their employers and the approved centres across Scotland which deliver our qualifications.’

Find out more about Credit Rating.

WorldSkills 2007

LOGO: WorldSkills UK Scotland LogoLast year, the UK successfully bid to host WorldSkills in London in 2011. Over 40 countries send competitors to WorldSkills to compete in nearly 40 skills ranging from hairdressing to landscape gardening. This year, WorldSkills will be held in Japan in November. There are two Scottish members of the UK team:

Chris and Julie were congratulated on their achievement by Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning and Maureen Watt MSP, Minister for Schools and Skills, when they met recently at Gleneagles.

PHOTO: Chris Blake and Julie Doig meeting Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning and Maureen Watt MSP, Minister for Schools and Skills at Gleneagles Hotel

Find out more.