Level 2 Diploma in Plant Operations — General (Construction)

SQA code: GD3M 60
Ofqual code:  600/2679/0
Minimum Total Qualification Time:  380
Minimum Guided Learning Hours: 295
Minimum Credit value: 38

The Diploma in Plant Operations — General at level 2 will develop knowledge and skills in slinging and signalling the movement of loads and guiding and moving loads or machinery.

It includes preparing and operating cranes or machinery to:

  • lift and transfer loads
  • excavate materials
  • extract materials

Road rail plant is also covered.

This qualification is available through colleges and training providers. It can be offered in England and Wales.

Qualification rationale and objectives

Rationale and purpose of this qualification

The qualification is designed to train people to operate plant equipment to accepted and recognised industrial standards. It is intended for those with no prior experience but it is also suitable for those in work who are looking for recognition of their prior learning and experience in their chosen industry.

Learners who achieve this qualification can use it to gain employment or to work towards another qualification (see Progression).

The primary purpose of this qualification is to develop the learner’s occupational competence as a plant operator.  As a knowledge programme, it will provide, on completion, the underpinning knowledge needed to meet the nationally recognised standard to carry out the role.

The qualification is assessed by completing various tasks. These can be carried out through practical assessment, knowledge-based questioning and online assessment. The assessor can then confirm that the learner has met the requirements of the qualification and that they have the necessary underpinning knowledge and skills to progress to a Level 2 Construction Civil Engineering apprenticeship.

The assessment process will ensure that the learner can:

  • interpret the instructions correctly
  • select the appropriate resources for the tasks
  • complete the tasks within the given timescales and specifications


The qualification is designed to meet the following objectives:

  • preparing learners for employment
  • supporting a role in the workplace
  •  knowledge, understanding and skills

What does this qualification cover?

As this is a knowledge-based qualification, learners will be acquiring the knowledge and skills required through on-the-job experience or in a learning environment. 

To achieve the whole qualification, learners need a minimum of 38 credits. They must complete three mandatory units plus four optional units from the qualification structure. (72 KB)

Who is this qualification for?

This qualification is suitable for:

  • apprentices
  • adults returning to education
  • learners in employment who wish to enhance their career prospects
  • individuals who wish to start their own business
  • learners not in employment who wish to enhance their career prospects
  • workers wishing to progress into a supervisory position
  • learners with no prior experience
  • school leavers
  • full-time and part-time employees
  • school and college students

Entry to the qualification is at the discretion of the centre.

There are no specific skills, knowledge and understanding or qualifications that must be achieved in order to start this qualification, however learners must have the potential and opportunity to gain this qualification successfully.

This qualification is mainly taken by individuals who are employed as plant operators or who are seeking employment as plant operators.


This qualification is a mandatory component in the Level 2 Construction Civil Engineering Apprenticeship.

SQA also offers the following components of this Apprenticeship: NVQ Certificate in Plant Operations (Construction) and Level 2 NVQ Diploma in Plant Operations (Construction).


Learners may progress from the Level 2 Diploma in Plant Operations to a range of qualifications including NVQ Level 2 in Plant Operations.

The Level 2 Diploma in Plant Operations – General (Construction) may lead to employment within the construction industry.

What approvals are needed?

Centres must 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 Systems and Qualification Approval Guide.

Where can you take this course

Qualification content and delivery tools

Qualification structure

The qualification requires the learner to complete three mandatory units (credit value 14) and four optional units (credit value 24).

Group award code: GD3M 60, Ofqual code: 600/2679/0 (credit value 38)

Please refer to the qualification structure (72 KB) for more information.

Unit specifications

Unit specifications for this qualification are available on the Unit search.

How to assess

Ongoing course assessment will apply. Each unit specification gives detailed information on the evidence requirements/assessment criteria and approaches to assessment for the unit. A training and assessment programme is available for this unit from the SQA secure website.

Learner portfolio

Qualification Verification Summary Reports