in Building Conservation Management, Control and Consultancy
qualifications (NVQs) and Scottish vocational qualifications (SVQs) are
based on a set of national standards which specify the kind of competence
needed in particular occupations - that is to say, what people in those
occupations actually have to do. The framework incorporates five levels
to cover their provision from the most basic to those representing advanced
professional and managerial roles.
Standards of competence
developed by the Construction Industry Council (CIC), which represents
the key organisations in the construction industry, include three NVQs
specifically for the main professionals involved in the conservation of
Site Management (conservation)
Control is aimed mainly at conservation officers in local authorities,
and Conservation Consultancy is aimed at those who are already members
of professional institutions who wish to demonstrate their additional
competence in conservation.
These three NVQs offer
a way to become qualified by demonstrating competence through assessment
of a portfolio of work. The NVQs themselves, by providing a breakdown
of the competencies needed, amount to a model against which experience
and capabilities can be evaluated, in order to make good any shortcomings.
WHY GET AN NVQ?
A completed NVQ portfolio
is tangible evidence of competence in the roles defined by these national
Many people have built
up a level of competence sufficient to effectively carry out their work
but have no qualification to prove this.
Professional and academic
qualifications do not prove competence. It is generally accepted that
while getting a degree might demonstrate abilities to gather, select and
present information, this qualification does not demonstrate the many
more specific competencies needed to practice in different professional
of professional institutions can be gained through professional practice
exams which are not sufficiently systematic or comprehensive to prove
competence in the different roles involved. Initiatives are being taken
in the building industry in general and the professions to improve levels
of competence and to provide registers to demonstrate that this has been
The building industry
is currently concerned to achieve a greater degree of qualification for
its practitioners. ConstructionSkills,
using the lower level NVQs is an example of this initiative. Another example
is the development of professional accreditation schemes to enable the
demonstration of competence in building conservation. Active consideration
is being given to the use of NVQs/SVQs and the National Occupational Standards
which underpin them, in the qualifying requirements for both building
conservation and professional qualification in general.
The benefits of achieving
an NVQ include not only the recognition provided by the qualification
but also the confidence and effectiveness gained in assembling and developing
the evidence that demonstrates that competence has been achieved.
ARE NVQs STRUCTURED?
The areas in which
competence needs to be demonstrated are listed under the following headings:
the areas of work activity (eg team management)
the work functions within each of these areas of work activity (eg
planning work activities and agreeing objectives and work plans with
These 'elements' are
then considered in terms of their 'range' - the range of range of situations
in which the activities can occur - and against specific 'performance
is needed to show that sufficient experience, understanding, and knowledge
has been attained in each of the above units and elements. The evidence
required is outlined in the following table.
The Evidence Needed to Prove Competence
Tangible things like drawings, reports and letters for
How effectively these were done, judged through observation
by the assessor, witness testimony, and interviews
The type of knowledge used in the activities
Facts and data
Knowledge without which the job cannot be
HOW MUCH EVIDENCE MUST BE PROVIDED?
The types of competence requiring assessment at levels 4 and 5 will include
a greater range than those listed above. These might include, for example,
the ability to innovate and cope with non-routine activities, plan work,
supervise others and make balanced judgements, as well as requiring a
greater depth and breadth of competence and ability to make balanced judgements
than the lower level NVQs require.
Sufficient evidence must be provided to enable assessors to make judgements
about competence in all the relevant areas of work. Assessors look for
appropriateness and consistency and will stop probing and move on to another
area when satisfied. So where evidence shows competence and consistency,
relatively little will suffice, whereas any evidence of less than competent
or inconsistent practice will cause assessors to probe further.
There are many methods of assessment, varied according to the type of
visits are favoured because seeing how people work yields insights
into their understanding and knowledge. However, these tend to work better
for someone working in a workshop, for example, than for someone sitting
at a desk. Such visits need to be arranged in advance so that only activities
which do demonstrate levels of competence are observed.
reviews can be done either in candidates' presence or absence.
Interviews are documented to allow comparisons to be made between different
assessors, in order to maintain consistency of standards.
exams or evidence of prior qualifications will be used
where appropriate to reduce the costs of assessment.
HOW TO GET AN NVQ
Contact the Conference on Training in Architectural Conservation (COTAC)
for advice on selection of the NVQ to be undertaken and on registering
with the assessment centre. Having enrolled in a scheme, the steps are
1. Review current competencies and evidence with assessor.
2. Plan, with advice from assessor, a programme for collection and assembly
of evidence, and when and how it should be assessed.
3. Prepare portfolio. This will contain relevant and authenticated documents
as evidence of your competence, cross-referenced to the elements and units
in the NVQ to which they apply.
4. Assessment - usually done through a series of visits by and/or to
the assessor. The number of visits required will depend on the experience
you are able to demonstrate. The assessor's decisions and processes of
assessment are checked and verified by an Internal Verifier nominated
by the Assessment Centre.
5. Certification - the Assessment Centre advises the Awarding Body who,
if you are successful, issues you with your certificate.