Picture of a diploma with the words 'Diploma or NVQ?'

The Difference Between an NVQ and Diploma in Health & Social Care

You’ve probably seen that I use the words ‘NVQ’ and ‘Diploma’ interchangeably around this website and I’ve had a few messages from visitors asking me what the difference between the two is. So, I will try to explain…

In a nutshell

Essentially, an NVQ in health and social care is the same as a diploma in health and social care. The only difference is that a while ago the name changed. However, the levels remained the same so, for example, a Level 3 Diploma is the same as a Level 3 NVQ.

The history

For many years, National Vocational Qualifications or NVQs were the standard work-based qualification that recognised and assessed employees in a wide range of career paths. NVQ’s were available in hairdressing, plumbing, administration, horticulture and many other subjects.

In 2015, NVQs were discontinued and replaced by Diplomas under the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF).

And then in early 2018, the QCF Diploma was replaced by the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) Diploma.

Do workers need to upgrade their qualification?

Although going forward, only RQF Diplomas can be commissioned for new learners, NVQ and QCF qualifications still remain relevant and there is no need to ‘upgrade’ to the newer standard. All the standards carry the same amount of weight and are equivalent to one another.

Level 2 NVQ = Level 2 QCF Diploma = Level 2 RQF Diploma

Also, learners that have started studying under the QCF framework will be able to continue. However, employers should ensure that their employees training is kept up-to-date and refreshers provided where necessary.

Final word

So if NVQs are obsolete, you may be asking why I continue to use the word on my website.

This is simply because a great many people in the health and social care sector still refer to Diplomas as NVQs and, consequently, many visitors to this website find it my typing a phrase with the word ‘NVQ’ in it. If I didn’t use the word ‘NVQ’, less people would find and get help from me.

Over time, I expect the word to be used less and less until at some future point in time only the word ‘Diploma’ is used. And then I will be able to remove all reference of ‘NVQ’ from these webpages.