National Occupational Standards

National Occupational Standards

National Occupational Standards (NOS) specify UK standards of performance that people are expected to achieve in their work, and the knowledge and skills they need to perform effectively.



According to the Sector Skills Development Agency (SSDA, from 1 April 2008 replaced by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills), National Occupational Standards set out measurable performance outcomes to which an individual is expected to work in a given occupation. Developed by employers across the UK, NOS set out the skills, knowledge and understanding required to perform competently in the workplace.[1]


NOS, which are approved by UK government regulators, are available for almost every role in every sector in the UK. For example, there are NOS for:

All approved National Occupational Standards are available for downloading free of charge from the NOS Directory.

Components of NOS

According to the SSDA [2], a unit of NOS must comprise:

  • Title, reflecting the content of the NOS
  • Overview, an introductory section providing a brief summary of the NOS to help the user judge whether it is relevant to them
  • Performance criteria, defining in detail what is expected of the individual
  • Knowledge and understanding, what the individual needs to know and/or understand to enable them to meet the performance criteria

NOS may also have sections covering:

  • Scope, specifying the range of circumstances or situations that have a critical impact on the activity when carrying out the performance criteria
  • Elements. A NOS can be divided into two or more discrete elements which describe the activities the person has to carry out.
  • Values and behaviours, the personal attributes an individual is expected to demonstrate within the NOS.

Using NOS

NOS can be used to support any and all human resource management and development activities, as shown in the toolkit developed for Skills for Justice to support the use of the NOS for Legal Advice.

NOS are also used in the UK as the basis for National Vocational Qualifications and Scottish Vocational Qualifications.


  1. ^ SSDA, 2007a, p1
  2. ^ SSDA, 2007b, pp2-3


  • SSDA, 2007a, Draft Guidance to Sector Skills Councils on Developing, Reviewing and Promoting National Occupational Standards
  • SSDA, 2007b, Definition, Description and Explanation of National Occupational Standards

External links

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