Industry Skills Standards

Vocational qualifications in the UK are built on industry skills standards that are defined by employers.  The most common of these standards are currently National Occupational Standards (NOS), which precisely define the competencies that a person needs in order to do their job effectively and productively.

NOS consist of statements of the standards of performance that people must achieve to be judged competent in their jobs, together with specifications of the knowledge that leads to understanding the reasons behind the activities.

They are the nationally-recognised benchmark for performance in qualifications and training, and provide a useful basis for benchmarking and assessment.


What do they comprise of?

  • Describe good practice in particular areas of work
  • Set out a statements of competence
  • Provide resource for a variety of workforce management and quality control tools
  • Offer a framework for training and development
  • Form the basis of National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs), Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) and Vocationally Related Qualifications (VRQs).
  • They form the basis of the majority of QCF qualifications.

How can businesses use NOS?

Employers can use NOS to:

  • Describe the skills they need in their workforce
  • Assess the skills already in the workforce
  • Develop training and recruitment plans to fill any identified gaps and shortages
  • As the basis for setting objectives in performance and appraisal
  • Form the basis of job descriptions
  • Assist with staff retention

Why are standards important?

Standards have a proven history of supporting business growth. They are used for products and services to ensure their performance in the same way that NOS ensure the performance of learners and training across the industry.

National Occupational Standards set out the criteria to be met and milestones to be achieved, eliminating confusion over the individual’s achievements and providing qualifications that are recognisable and relevant.

How do standards help employers?

  • Improve the quality of goods and services
  • Increase productivity
  • Improve HR planning
  • Act as a benchmark against internal and industry best practice
  • Reduce costs for recruitment by identifying existing skills
  • Immediate knowledge of staff skills status
  • They are the basis for training plans and materials

How do standards help employees?

  • Identify skills and knowledge needed for current and future roles
  • Provide a tool to assess ability and training needs
  • Identify and support career paths
  • Provide guidelines for future training and development
  • Increase mobility within industries

How does NSA MPS & Proskills use NOS?

As the developer of NOS, Proskills SSO (Standards Setting Organisation) has a reputation for independence and innovation in both the production of the standards and their promotion to ensure the spread of best practice across the process and manufacturing industries.

They provide an excellent basis from which to develop benchmarking exercises either internally or to compare with other similar organisations

Find out more about Proskills and the VRQ’s available