What NOS are

National Occupational Standards (or NOS) define best practice within a sector or occupation. Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) and other standards setting organisations have a responsibility to work systematically with employers and other key partners across the UK to develop and refine NOS. 

NOS provide statements of effective performance for the activity delivered and the outcomes achieved and represent a consensus view of range of employers and stakeholders of best practice for each particular function. 

Originally developed by Sector Skills Councils for the UK as a whole; skills policy in England has shifted away from NOS and they are currently managed by Skills Development Scotland (SDS) on behalf of the three devolved administrations. In England there are Standards for the Higher Apprenticeship: Career Development Professional and the Apprenticeship: Employability Practitioner. 

NOS: Career Development

These provide an overview of the competencies required to fulfil the tasks carried out in the career development sector. The NOS do not describe specific job roles. Role definitions are normally based on a number of functions and relate to a number of standards. There is no expectation that a job role would encompass all the performance requirements across every standard, rather that specific jobs will utilise the appropriate standards. 

Each standard comprises a number of performance criteria which an individual should demonstrate to be competent in the sector. Each standard also outlines the knowledge and understanding which underpin the standard. 

The standards do not equate directly to qualifications but are used to derive relevant competency based qualifications for the career development sector. 

History of the NOS: Career Development

In January 2014 the CDI made a successful bid to UKCES for guardianship of the NOS: Career Development which were originally developed by Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK) in 2011. Subsequently the CDI expanded and refreshed the NOS in consultation with employers and stakeholders from across the sector and the four nations. 

Critically, this piece of work recognised the wider definition of the career development sector reflected in CDI membership – particularly the inclusion of career educators and talent management practitioners who were not included in the original SSC footprint.  

In 2021 the National Occupational Standards: Career Development were revised by CLD Scotland following consultation with employers and stakeholders from across the sector and the four nations. 

Where to find the National Occupational Standard: Career Development

The revised Career Development NOS are available on the NOS Database (individual standards) Home (ukstandards.org.uk)and also as a full suite, and with the Functional Map, on CLD Standards Council website Career Development NOS | CLD Standards Council for Scotland 

Uses of National Occupational Standards

NOS can be used in a variety of ways by: 

  • Employers – organisation and workforce development and performance management 
  • Education and Training Providers – assessment and benchmarking, development and review of learning programmes 
  • Individuals – self-assessment, planning CPD, professional registration 
  • Profession and CDI – regulation of qualifications and institutions, identification of skill gaps and requirements for training provision, public recognition of competence, production/ endorsement of CPD resources, courses and events 
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