Level 2 NVQ Diploma in Plant Operations (Construction)

SQA code: GL5G 68
Ofqual code: 601/8964/2
Minimum Total Qualification Time: 450
Minimum Guided Learning Hours: 205
Minimum Credit value: 45

The (NVQ) diploma in Plant Operations (Construction) at level 2 will develop knowledge and skills in slinging and signalling the movement of loads and guiding and moving loads or machinery. Learners can specialise in various specialist plant machines including forklift trucks, excavators, scissor platforms, and cranes.

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.

The primary purpose of this qualification is to develop and confirm the learner’s occupational competence as a plant operator. As a work-related, competence-based qualification it will provide, on completion, confirmation to employers and industry managers and card schemes that learners have the skills and knowledge needed to meet the nationally recognised standard to carry out the role.

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


The qualification is designed to meet the following objectives:

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


This qualification is supported by the Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS).

CPCS provides a registration card scheme acknowledged by industry for those involved in plant operations. The scheme recognises skills, knowledge and understanding, competence and qualifications.

What does this qualification cover?

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

This qualification has a range of pathways and is linked to typical job roles that learners will encounter within the industry.

To achieve the whole qualification, learners need a minimum of 45 credits. 

Who is this qualification for?

This qualification is suitable for:

  • adult returners to education
  • people in employment who wish to enhance their career prospects
  • individuals who wish to start their own business
  • school leavers
  • adult returners to education
  • individuals who wish to start their own business
  • learners with no prior experience
  • learners not in employment who wish to enhance their career prospects
  • full-time and part-time employees
  • school and college students with a part-time job or work experience that enables them to develop the appropriate skills in the workplace

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

There are no specific skills, knowledge understanding or any other 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 individual’s employed/seeking employment as:

  • a plant operator
  • a loader securer
  • a crane and specialist lifting plant operator


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

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


Achievement of the Level 2 NVQ Diploma in Plant Operations could enable the holder to work with the machinery and equipment used on major civil engineering projects, construction and house-building sites, roadworks, demolition sites, quarries and railways. This could include machines such as:

  • 180 and 360-degree excavators
  • earth-moving bulldozers and dump trucks
  • loading shovels
  • mobile and crawler cranes
  • tower cranes
  • compactors used for levelling out work areas
  • piling rigs
  • concrete pumps

This qualification can also lead to supervisory qualifications such as:

600/3377/0 (GE1Y 79) Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Occupational Work Supervision (Construction)

and provide invaluable practical experience for those who aspire to the more technical professions. It can also be used to broaden a skills set and to increase employability in the civil engineering 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 2 mandatory units (credit value 5) and a minimum of one optional unit (credit value 40).

Group award code: GL5G 68, OFQUAL code: 601/8964/2 (credit value 45)

Guided learning hours: 150. Total qualification time: 450 hours.

Please refer to the qualification structure (100 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.

The qualification is assessed by completing a portfolio of evidence which details what learners have completed at work through observation, professional discussion, witness testimony and supporting documentary evidence. The assessor can work alongside the learner to confirm that they have met the requirements of the qualification and that they are therefore competent in their role.

Competence is displayed through the assessor observing the learner demonstrate that they carry out their normal work activities competently and to the industry standard and comply with current legislation and company procedures.

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

Learner portfolio

Assessment strategy/principle