What is a VQ?

ECITB Vocational Qualifications (VQs) are practical work-related qualifications designed to accommodate employers’ requirements.

They are outcome-based and have no fixed learning programme which make them particularly flexible.  They enable the learner to acquire skills, knowledge and understanding to be able to perform a particular occupation or work function.  They evidence that the learner has been trained appropriately in a way that employers value because employers in the engineering construction sectors have helped design them. ECITB VQs are assessed using work based evidence and observation and  are based on the National Occupational Standards (NOS) of that particular sector of industry. NOS are developed by employers and professional bodies in conjunction with the Standard Setting Organisation and describe what is meant by occupational competence within a particular job role.

All NOS are structured in such a way that they can be broken down into the following common parts:

  • Units
  • Performance statements
  • Scope
  • Evidence requirements, and
  • Knowledge statements.

Each of these parts is further described below:


NOS are divided into units, each of which describes an activity which the candidate will be expected to perform competently. 

Performance statements

Performance statements are a group of sentences which describe the level and quality of the performance expected of the candidate during a particular activity or unit.


The scope of a unit describes the various circumstances in which the candidate would be expected to perform in order to be deemed competent.

Evidence requirements

The evidence requirements of a unit define the amount and type of evidence necessary to demonstrate that the candidate has successfully met the standard described in the performance criteria and in the circumstances outlined in the scope.

Knowledge statements

In addition to performing an activity to a certain standard the candidate is required to demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the key principles and facts which underpin competent performance. These key principles and facts are outlined within the knowledge statements section of the unit.