Q: What is a Vocational Qualification?
A: Vocational qualifications (VQs) are work-related qualifications. They are nationally recognised qualifications gained in the workplace. You learn practical, work-related tasks designed to help you develop the skills and knowledge to do a job effectively.
Q: What is an Apprenticeship?
A: Apprenticeships include the following basic elements:
1. An appropriate National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) at either Level 2 or Level 3
2. Key Skill qualifications, e.g. working in teams, problem-solving, communication, application of number and ICT
3. A technical certificate
4. And possibly other qualifications or requirements as specified by the particular occupation
Q: Am I eligible for an Apprenticeship?
A: Mercia are able to support and provide funding for 16-18 and 19+ age groups. Depending on your circumstances and qualifications you may already hold will determine which programme will best meet you and your employers needs. A member of Mercia’s staff will advise you of the most suitable programme and more specific eligibility rules.
Q: Are there different types of Apprenticeships/VQ’s?
A: Yes, there are different types of Apprenticeships and VQ’s available. Which Apprenticeship or VQ is right for you will depend on your experience and the opportunities with your employer. Ask your Mercia Adviser for details.
Q: What are the different levels of Vocational Qualification and what do they mean?
A: All vocational qualifications are grouped together in different levels on the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF). The level shows how difficult each qualification is – from entry level right up to level 8. Vocational qualification levels can be compared to other qualifications. Entry level qualifications build confidence and help people prepare for further learning and work. Level 2 qualifications are the equivalent of grades A* to C at GCSE and level 3 qualifications are equivalent to A levels.
The title of a vocational qualification tells you:
• the qualification level – from entry level to Level 8
• the size of the qualification – an award, certificate or diploma
• the subject you’re studying – such as sport and active leisure
Qualifications you could gain at Mercia include:
• Level 1 Certificate in Adult Numeracy
• Level 2 Certificate in IT for Users
• Level 3 Diploma in Supporting Teaching and Learning
You could also go on to higher education and study Levels 4 to 8 on the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF). See https://www.gov.uk/what-different-qualification-levels-mean for full details on the range of qualifications and what they mean.
For teacher training, the TDA is the best source of information (http://www.education.gov.uk/get-into-teaching?ref=getintoteaching)
http://findfe.com/ is a great way to find a local college.
Q: How long does it take?
A: There is no set time to complete an Apprenticeship or a Vocational Qualification as they vary widely in content and size. The length of time taken will depend on the ability of the individual apprentice and the employer’s requirements. An Apprenticeship will usually take anything from 9 to 24 months. NVQ’s might take less, but some Apprenticeships can take longer, so a large degree of commitment on your part is necessary to see it through.
Q: How much time do I have to commit?
A: We advise you to have the commitment to spend at least 1 hour of your own time each week.
Q: How often am I assessed?
A: Your assessor will visit you regularly at agreed times.
Q: How do the programmes work?
A: Your employer pays your wages and gives you on-the-job training which allows you to achieve your Vocational Qualification. You’ll also spend time with a Mercia Assessor, gaining key skills. In addition, you’ll study for a technical certificate, which will give you further knowledge and understanding of your job. The amount of time you’ll spend studying varies and will depend on your chosen Apprenticeship and your chosen profession.
Q: How much does it cost?
A: This is dependant upon age and eligibility. Please contact us for further information where we can identify any funding opportunities.
Q: Where does the assessment take place?
A: All the assessments are carried out at work, mostly as you do your daily job.
Q: Is there any day release?
A: There might be day release in some cases. You may be required to attend sessions to help you achieve your technical certificate or sit tests.
Q: Who will assess me?
A: A specially trained, fully qualified Mercia Assessor who has considerable experience in the industry and who has helped many others achieve these qualifications.
Q: Will I have to do any writing?
A: Some. You will be asked to complete answers to questions about how you do your job and/or write about things that have happened and therefore develop your report writing skills.
Q: What if my writing skills aren’t very good?
A: Don’t worry, if you prefer we can always use a Dictaphone or our Assessors will help you without any embarrassment.
Q: What sort of people are accepted on Apprenticeships/VQs?
A: Applicants need to be: serious, committed, aware of your responsibilities to both yourself and your company, prepared for further study, realistic about the amount of work you may have to do, happy to work as both part of a team and an individual, able to use your own initiative.
Q: Will I fail?
A: You don’t fail a Vocational Qualification…you might not achieve if you refuse to cooperate with the Assessor, or leave the programme without letting us know where you are going. Your assessor carries on assessing until you have proved you are competent within the national standards of the Qualification.
Q: Can I continue if I change employers?
A: The programme you undertake is designed for you as an individual, not your employer. Therefore the programme follows you. As long as you notify us, your new employer is happy to support you and you remain in the same occupational area. You do not have to start from scratch again, you continue where you left off.
Q: Why should I bother?
A: Why not? You have the chance to gain a nationally recognised qualification that recognises the skills and knowledge that you have acquired whilst doing your job.
Q: What qualifications do I get when I’ve finished my Apprenticeship/VQ?
A: You’ll get a package of qualifications when you finish your Apprenticeship – a Vocational Qualification (VQ), a technical certificate, and Key Skill qualifications. Apprenticeships incorporate either a VQ Level 2 or a VQ Level 3. You will receive a VQ certificate when you achieve your VQ.
Q: What choice of Apprenticeships/VQs do I have?
A: At Mercia Partnership the following Apprenticeships/VQ programmes are available. If your chosen occupational area doesn’t appear, please ask, we may be able to provide it for you, or point you in the right direction to someone who does.
Business & Management
Education & Training
At Mercia we also offer Functional Skills (in English, Maths and IT) and Employability. Please contact us for details.
Q: How do I get started?
A: You must complete your Apprenticeship/VQ to get the qualifications, so you need to make sure that you’re serious about your chosen career and can commit yourself to a period of training and study. Complete the application form supplied by Mercia, hand it back to your employer to return to us and we will do the rest. You will be contacted within 10-14 days to complete the enrolment procedure, which will be followed by your first visit by your assigned Assessor.
If you have any further questions please contact us. Further information, advice and guidance is available from our Mercia Staff. You can also get advice from your school, college, employer or careers adviser.You can also get advice about qualifications for adult learners from the National Careers Service on 0800 100 900 or by visiting https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/Pages/Home.aspx