Vocational Qualifications

Vocational qualifications set out and describe what competent people in a particular area of work are expected to be able to do in their workplace. They cover all the main aspects of an occupation, including current best practice, the ability to adapt to future requirements and the knowledge and understanding that underpin good performance.

What are NVQs?

NVQs (National Vocational Qualifications) are based on NOS (national occupational standards) which are set down by each specific industry and the relevant sector skills.

They can be undertaken by full-time employees, or by school and college students with a work placement or part-time job that enables them to develop the appropriate skills, knowledge and experience within the workplace. There are no age limits and expected to be completed within a reasonable timescale.

McCrae Training typically target completion in around 18 months from induction, however this will vary depending on each candidate, and work environment, and can be anywhere in the range of 6 months up to 3 years.

Is an SVQ Different to an NVQ?

SVQs (Scottish Vocational Qualifications) operate broadly in the same way as NVQs, however are focused on Scotland and are also based on NOS (national occupational standards).

They may differ very slightly depending on regulatory differences etc.

All SVQs are credit rated and levelled and feature in the Scottish Credit Qualifications Framework (SCQF) in order to enable clear learner progression between other Scottish national qualifications and the SVQ provision, including Modern Apprenticeship Frameworks. You can see how the SVQs are related to other Scottish qualifications in the SCQF here.

How are they achieved?

NVQs/SVQs work by testing your abilities in the workplace. To complete an NVQ/SVQ you need to prove that you can do certain work-related tasks. They are assessed in a combination of ways: By portfolio – you build up evidence of what you’ve done at work; and by observation – an assessor observes you working, and checks that you can competently complete the tasks.

Candidates produce evidence to prove they have the competence to meet the NVQ/SVQ standards. Assessors sign off units when the candidates are ready. The assessor tests candidates’ knowledge, understanding and work-based performance to make sure they can demonstrate competence in the workplace.

Candidates compare their performance with the standards as they learn against performance criteria. They review what they have achieved, how much they still need to do and how they should go about it (with the guidance and support of an assessor), until they are assessed as competent for a unit or a whole NVQ/SVQ. The system is right for candidates who already have skills and want to increase them, but also for those who are starting from the beginning as the system and approach is so flexible, new ways of learning can be used immediately.

Are there any other standards or options?

We can help provide and tailor other types of qualifications to meet the needs of the individuals or your work environment. Standards such as Professional Development awards, Progression awards, certificates, diplomas and other vocational awards.

These awards are designed for individuals who can’t take an NVQ/SVQ because they don’t have access to an appropriate workplace. These will often be class-room based with assessments such as exams, practical tests, online tests and hand-in assignments, with McCrae Training’s Practical Training area providing a realistic working environment that can allow for candidates to gain vital hands-on experience.

Higher National Qualifications

These include individual Units (HN Units), Higher National Certificates (HNCs) and Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) are specifically designed to meet the needs of employers and sectors. These short-cycle higher education qualifications provide learners with practical working skills and the theoretical knowledge employers require.

What format do they take?

HN qualifications are set out per Unit where typically candidates would attend up to 5 days lecture inclusive of a relevant field trip. Complete an assignment for the HN Unit and then sit a closed book invigilated exam.

What are the different Options?

Developed in partnership with colleges, universities, and industry, HNC and HND qualifications are available in a wide range of subjects, including business administration, computing, engineering, health and social care, and social sciences.

Who deliver these qualifications?

HN qualifications are delivered by colleges, training providers, and some universities. They can provide learners access to second or third-year entry at university, and to professional membership bodies. McCrae Training use our industry knowledge and experience, combined with specialist training knowledge to provide a broad range higher national units and certificates focussed on the utilities sectors.

Water Industry Registration Scheme

The Water Industry Registration Scheme (WIRS) is for contractors / consultants who provide new connections to the existing water supply (Design / Construct or both). These are referred to as “self-lay” organisations (SLO’s) or Utility Connection Providers (UCP’s).

The scheme is administered and audited by Lloyds Register as an independent 3rd party provider.

In order to be WIRS accredited, the companies / consultants undergo technical assessments from Lloyd’s Register, who assess several areas, including design, construction, connections, commissioning and project management. By becoming WIRS accredited, companies do not need to be approved by 22 separate water companies.

Some basic FAQs are outlined below with more detailed information on WIRS can be found via Lloyds Register Scheme document here.

McCrae Training is also able to assist with the Gas Industry Registration Scheme (GIRS).

What is the scope of WIRS?

WIRS covers aspects of Water Industry operations such as Design, Project management, Construction of Mains and/or Services, New Water Mains Connections, Service Connections, and Metering Services.

What is required for contractors?

All staff undertaking water industry work must be competent, which includes them holding the appropriate level of qualification in the activity being undertaken. New members of staff may be registered as trainees for the appropriate qualification and will be granted a period between 12-18 months to complete.

What Qualifications are needed for different roles?
  • For example:-
    Designers of Water Mains must be either registered either as an Incorporated Engineer with a recognised professional institution (such as CIWEM, ICE or IWO); or hold a Level NVQ/SVQ in Designing Water Networks.
  • Those involved in Water Mains Construction must hold current National Water Hygiene Card and Utility SHEA (Water) and an NVQ/SVQ in Network Construction Operations (Water).

WIRS qualifications are vocational as outlined above, and are conducted in the workplace alongside normal duties.

Get in touch if you wish to discuss further or obtain advice from one our experienced Water Industry Experts.

Are there exemptions available?

Exemptions may be available for some staff based on previous experience or other qualifications. This may be granted based on the criteria published on the EUSR website.

Modern Apprenticeships

A Modern Apprenticeship is a route for staff to learn on the job, gaining the required practical knowledge and experience, but while also working towards a recognised qualification.

Modern Apprenticeships are partially funded via a contribution towards training and assessment. Funding is administered and issued by SDS (Skills Development Scotland) in Scotland and SFA (Skills Funding Agency) in England, with some employers even having to contribute a mandatory Apprenticeship Levy Tax payment.

There are many different programs that can be followed and are selected to suit the company or individuals concerned. This can include working towards one of the vocational qualifications explained above and listed in our catalogue. This can also include qualifications required for WIRS as mentioned above.

Modern Apprenticeships are most often advertised and offered by employers recruiting new staff, with some listed via the Scottish Apprenticeships website. This website also offers a frequently asked questions (FAQs) section that is useful.

McCrae Training work with an extensive number of employers within the Water industry and Utilities sector providing the expertise to train, assess and develop apprentices through different programs.

By getting in touch with our team, they can assist employers understand what are the best Apprenticeship programmes for them or advise on alternative apprenticeship options.