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by Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA)
27 November 2023
Associate Feature: SQA drives Scotland’s skills revolution

Michelle Fowler from North Star Shipping

Partner content

Associate Feature: SQA drives Scotland’s skills revolution

Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) qualifications ensure Scotland’s economy has the skills it needs to develop and thrive. SQA works with industry, employers, and skills specialists to develop qualifications that support businesses at local, regional, and national levels.

There are more than 2,000 different types of qualification available to schools, colleges, training providers and employers – from Higher National Certificates and Diplomas (HNC/Ds), Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs), National Progression Awards (NPAs), Professional Development Awards (PDAs), employer-owned Customised Awards, as well as Nationals, Highers, and Advanced Highers, and a host of other Skills for Work courses, National Certificates and Awards.

These qualifications help to enable the people of Scotland in life and work and support all sectors of the Scottish economy, including health and social care, construction, games development, hospitality, travel and tourism and leadership and management.

Customised qualifications to fit employers’ needs
SQA Customised Awards are the perfect solution for organisations looking to invest in their workforce, establish competitive advantage or demonstrate quality and compliance.

These tailored qualifications are owned and developed by employers. They allow employers to decide the content and structure of the qualification, with SQA providing support on the development phase, external quality assurance, and certification. Organisations can custom-design their own qualifications that meet their specific business needs, with flexibility on content and qualification structure.

The Actif4 Leadership Diploma is a Customised Award awarded by SQA at level 10 on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). Michelle Fowler from North Star Shipping (left) completed the Leadership Diploma earlier this year, and says it provided her with long-lasting skills for the next step in her career.

She says, “I have been in the marine industry for twenty years and have worked my way up to my current position as group Quality, Health, Safety and Environment Manager, leading my team in all things health and safety related onshore and offshore. The diploma was a personal journey to leadership, underpinned by core material from the programme. At the end of the course, I produced project material and evidenced how I developed my skills as part of my daily routine. The course was excellent, and I got to work with a range of leaders from a variety of industries, all on different career paths but all with the same goal of developing their leadership skills. Having my own personal coach throughout the process to discuss my challenges with was worth its weight in gold.”

Developing skills for young people
National Progression Awards (NPAs) are developed in line with National Occupational Standards, which are the basis of Scottish Vocational Qualifications, and in turn many Foundation Apprenticeships. They are available at SCQF levels 2 – 6 and are often delivered by schools in partnership with colleges, and local employers.

Schools across Scotland are increasingly using a mix of NPAs and other SQA awards alongside Highers and Advanced Highers. This gives young people as much opportunity as possible to define their own pathways to success, and progress into higher or further education, training, or employment.

One such qualification is the NPA in Computer Games Development, which teaches learners how to write, design, and develop computer games. The course content covers a variety of topics, including capturing digital media that can be used within a game, copyright, and writing code to produce a game.

Dr Amanda Ford, who has been teaching the qualification for nine years at West College Scotland, explains, “It’s really good for schools, as it tends to be used as the equivalent of a National 5, or Higher. It allows students to take the games development route in their timetable and study something they’re interested in.

“Moving on from school, students can go on to study games further at college or university at a higher level. For example, a HNC or HND in Computer Games Development.”
The knowledge and skills gained can lead to eventual employment in a games or programming position.

This article is sponsored by Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) 

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