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About NOS

National Occupational Standards(NOS) are developed by Standard Setting Organisations (SSO) who consult with employers and other stakeholders across each of the UK nations, (Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England). This consultation process allows any specific requirements to be considered by each nation and the result is a set of NOS that are suitable for use across the UK. The NOS, which are set out in a common format, are approved on a four-nation basis and content is scrutinised by SQA Accreditation. Each NOS has a published date stating when it was approved, and the most current NOS are listed in this database. There is also an anticipated review date and this will be used as a guide to when they require reviewing and feedback from stakeholders is taken to influence when this is commissioned.

Although NOS are developed as individual measures of competence, they are grouped in Suites which identify the sector they relate to and there are approx. 900 suites at present, with almost 23,000 separate NOS. They cover a wide range of sectors.

Where there has been a need identified for the NOS to be translated into the Welsh Language this will be carried out and there are around 1,900 NOS on the database which have been translated into the Welsh language. 

NOS can be used for developing skills and knowledge and these include; direct transfer into vocational and other qualifications, framework for training programmes, measures of workplace competence and influencing job descriptions.

As an example, 1 NOS correlates directly to 1 unit of a Scottish/National Vocational Qualification, and these are used to develop Qualifications which in turn can be offered through awarding bodies. 

Details on which awarding bodies operate in each nation can be found here:

Northern Ireland: Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA)

CCEA is a unique educational body in the UK, bringing together the three areas of curriculum, examinations and assessment. Ensuring that the qualifications and examinations offered by awarding bodies in Northern Ireland are of an appropriate quality and standard. As Northern Ireland's leading awarding body we offer a diverse range of qualifications, such as GCSEs, GCE A and AS levels, Entry Level Qualifications and Vocational Qualifications.

Scotland: Scottish Qualifications Authority Accreditation (SQA Accreditation)

Under Scottish Government legislation, SQA Accreditation quality assures qualifications offered in Scotland by approving awarding bodies and accrediting their qualifications. They do this by regulating awarding bodies and their qualifications against published regulatory requirements.

Wales: Qualifications Wales

Qualifications Wales regulates qualifications, other than degrees, in Wales.

England: Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF)

RQF helps people understand all the qualifications we regulate, general and vocational in England, and how they relate to each other.

Below are some links which give background to the use of NOS.

Introduction to National Occupational Standards

Scott Waddington SA Brains - Introduction to National Occupational Standards.

Using National Occupational Standards

Rob Jones - using National Occupational Standards.

NOS Employer Case Study 1

Neath Dental Centre - employer case study.

NOS Employer Case Study 2

Trefnant Garage - employer case study.

NOS Employer Case Study 3

BBC - employer case study.