Vocational Qualifications

What are vocational qualifications?

Vocational qualifications are work-related qualifications that prepare you for a particular role. They are well regarded by engineering employers, who help design the qualifications.


Vocational qualifications include BTECs, EAL NVQs and SVQs and City & Guilds. Some people take a combination of academic and vocational qualifications at school or sixth form college. You can also study vocational qualifications full time – often in a Further Education (FE) college or a University Technical College (UTC).



Why choose vocational routes into engineering?

If you enjoy learning in a practical way and you have an idea of the sort of job, industry or sector you want to work in, a vocational qualification – either taken at college or as part of your apprenticeship – could be the route for you.



What is an FE College?

Further Education colleges offer a range of qualifications, including A levels, Highers (in Scotland), vocational qualifications and specialist work-related courses.


If you’re doing an apprenticeship you are likely to do the studying part of the apprenticeship at an FE college. Studying for an apprenticeship can also be done through a learning provider.



What is a UTC?

University Technical Colleges are for 14-18-year-olds. They combine academic, technical and practical learning and have links with local employers and a sponsor university.


They are suitable for young people who want to develop the skills needed to work in science, engineering, manufacturing or technology industries.



HNCs and HNDs

Higher National Certificates (HNCs) and Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) are Level 4 and 5 vocational qualifications usually taken at a further or higher education college or whilst in employment. They can also be taken as part of an apprenticeship. HNCs and HNDs are available in different fields of engineering.



T Levels

T Levels are new courses coming in September 2020, which will follow GCSEs and will be equivalent to three A Levels. These two-year courses have been developed in collaboration with employers and businesses so that the content meets the needs of industry and prepares students for work.


T Level students spend 80% of the course in the classroom, learning the skills that employers need. The other 20% is a meaningful industry placement, where students put these skills into action.

Links and resources

Vocational Qualifications Booklet
T Levels
Engineering at University