Level 2 NVQ Diploma in Plant Operations (Construction)

SQA code: GR19 68
Ofqual code: 601/8964/2
Total Qualification Time: 450
Guided Learning Hours:  205

The qualification will develop knowledge and skills in areas such as 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 may be available through training providers and colleges and is offered in England and Wales. This is an updated qualification that has been developed to ensure it meets the needs of the industry.

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.

Its primary purpose is to develop and confirm the learner's occupational competence as a plant operator so that they can gain employment or work towards another qualification (see Progression). 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, to progress in the industry, 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


The Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) is the largest and most highly recognised single skills card scheme for the plant sector of the construction industry. The scheme provides certification for plant operatives and associated operations for UK construction and allied industries to prove workers' operating skills and health and safety awareness.

The plant operator certification process is supported by CPCS testers and CPCS trainers, who in turn are certified as trained and competent by CPCS.

Membership of the scheme is voluntary but is mandatory on many construction sites and other work environments.

What does this qualification cover?

As this is a competence-based qualification, learners will be acquiring the knowledge and skills required through either 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.

Who is this qualification for?

This qualification is suitable for:

  • adult learners to education
  • people in employment who wish to enhance their career prospects
  • individuals who wish to start their own business
  • school leavers
  • 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 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, or 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 individuals 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:

  • 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.

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Qualification structure

To gain the qualification, learners must achieve mandatory core units, plus a minimum of one unit from their chosen pathway.

Please refer to the qualification structure (402 KB) for more information

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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 the learner has completed at work. This can be gathered through observation, professional discussion, witness testimony or 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

Qualification Verification Summary Report

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