How to deliver SVQs

Using SVQs

SVQs are based on national standards of competence drawn up by industry. When someone has an SVQ, there is a guarantee that they have the skills and knowledge they need to do the job. The way SVQs work is:

SVQs offer three kinds of distinct benefit that feed into business strategies.


Standards define the competence for the occupational area an SVQ covers. Candidates' skills and knowledge are mapped to these standards.

This identifies where skill levels fall short of nationally-agreed quality standards.

Improved Performance

Organisations benefit when staff start achieving SVQs. These include:

Improved market position and image

Staff who complete SVQs are competent. They have proven that they are reliable and up to the job. SVQs are a real and meaningful badge of quality.

Units and elements

Between six and ten units make up SVQs. These units break jobs down into separate functions.

Elements break down the unit into smaller tasks. There might up to five of them in a unit. Every element has evidence requirements. By gathering this evidence candidates prove their competence, including knowledge and understanding.

Candidates need to perform tasks to a set standard. The performance criteria set these standards.

The five SVQ levels

SVQs are available at up to five levels. Most SVQs are available at levels 2 and 3. But more higher level qualifications are becoming available in many disciplines.

Level 1

SVQs cover jobs which involve a range of tasks, most of which fall into a set pattern and don't change.

Level 2

Candidates must show that they are competent in a range of varied activities. Some activities will be complex where there is individual responsibility or autonomy. The job may also involve collaboration with others.

Level 3

Candidates must perform a broad range of complex and non-routine activities. Candidates will usually have considerable responsibility and autonomy. They may have control or guidance of others.

Level 4

Level 4 involves a broad range of complex, technical or professional work activities. They will be performed in a wide variety of contexts, with more personal responsibility and autonomy. People doing these SVQs will often be responsible for the work of others.

Level 5

Candidates show competence by applying key principles and complex techniques across wide contexts. They have lots of personal autonomy, and often significant responsibility for the work of others. They also have responsibility for the allocation of resources. They show personal accountability for analysis and diagnosis, design, planning, execution and evaluation.


Evidence proves that people can do what the SVQ standards say they have to be able to do. This is done in three stages:

Assessment determines whether a candidate has the skills they need to be awarded an SVQ. An assessor judges the evidence of a candidate's competence against the standards. The assessor is likely to be a supervisor or manager, or trainer. It is the assessor's role to:

After a candidate has generated and collected all their evidence, the assessor makes one of three judgements:

These are the only judgements the assessor can make.

Final steps

The assessor makes a record of his or her judgement about the candidate's competence. To be sure this judgement is sound, all the evidence will be preserved or recorded. SQA will issue a certificate.