Skills delivery landscape: call for evidence

This call for evidence paper seeks stakeholder views on Scotland’s skills system. The information gathered will help to inform recommendations to Ministers by James Withers, the Advisor to the Independent Review of the Skills Delivery Landscape.

Part 3 - National Occupational Standards (NOS)

National Occupational Standards (NOS) were introduced over 40 years ago to support vocational education, training and qualifications. They are statements of the standard of performance that an individual must achieve when carrying out functions of their occupation in the workplace. They are recognised in a consistent way across the UK, so achievement of a standard in one nation of the UK is recognised in all others.

NOS are the central industry benchmark for measuring competency and in responding to the skills needs of industry. They describe best practice in the skills, knowledge and understanding an individual will need to carry out their job in a competent manner. They provide individuals with a guarantee that their qualification will have a recognised standard with the required skills they need to develop their career.

In many sectors, together with professional standards, NOS underpin vocational qualifications. They are a mandatory component of Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) and Competency Based Qualifications (CBQs) accredited by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and the underpinning competency standard the qualifications contained in Foundation and Modern Apprenticeship frameworks.

The UK Government withdrew from the funding and formal use of NOS in 2016 and closed the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES). Skills Ministers across the three devolved administrations (DAs) (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) have remained committed to retaining NOS across the UK.

This commitment includes providing public funding and resource to implement the agreed strategic direction as set out in the NOS Strategy ‘2022 and Beyond’, published in September 2022, which sets out the DAs’ ambitions for the development and promotion of NOS within the skills and education system.

Since the three-nation approach was agreed, Skills Development Scotland (SDS) has been the managing agent for NOS on behalf of the DAs. The DAs provide funding to SDS for NOS management to support management of the programme. In this role, SDS contracts for the development of NOS, and related SVQs working closely with SQA Accreditation, and is responsible for maintaining NOS operations including the ongoing management and maintenance of the NOS Database system.

Question 10: Do you have any evidence on how the current arrangements for NOS are delivering against the intended ambitions of the NOS Strategy?

Question 11: The NOS Strategy positions NOS as the foundation of vocational training and learning in Scotland. Do you have any evidence to support how changes to the delivery landscape for developing and championing NOS could support this ambition?



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