NVQ Level 2 in Construction

The NVQ Level 2 in Construction Operations is a qualification designed for workers operating within the plant industry. The aim of the course is to ensure that individuals are equipped to compliantly deliver the role of plant operative. Therefore, this training module covers a range of theoretical and practical information, and offers an opportunity for candidates to hone their skills and knowledge in their chosen construction discipline.

This article provides all of the key information relating to this NVQ. It includes a review of the course structure, its typical target audience, and potential costs associated with undertaking this training. If you’re conducting some additional research into this qualification, please be aware that the course full title is as follows: ‘Level 2 NVQ Diploma Construction and Civil Engineering Operations (Construction)’.

In recent times, trades within the construction sector have strongly encouraged their workforce to study for formal qualifications. This is a different approach to previous years, whereby many workers relied upon ‘learning on the job, and gaining experience and confidence exclusively in a workplace setting. Now, most employers will expect workers to have either obtained or be studying towards an industry-recognized qualification.

The CSCS programme

Furthermore, the vast majority of companies will expect their workers to be in possession of a CSCS card. Unless engaging in training activity, in order to obtain a CSCS card, individuals must have completed at least an NVQ Level 2 qualification. The CSCS, or Construction Skills Certification Scheme, serves to identify the capability, occupation, and seniority level of construction workers. It is readily used across all trades in the construction sector, and is universally accepted as a legitimate indicator of the owner’s competencies. Some trades have slightly adapted the CSCS framework, and tailored it more specifically to their discipline. The plant trade is a good example of this, whereby the CPCS initiative in operation.

As per many other trade versions of the CSCS programme, the colours used to categorize different workers are consistent with the over-arching CSCS framework. This approach allows site managers to swiftly understand the general capability of workers, regardless of the discipline they’re trained in.

As mentioned, the CPCS, or Construction Plant Competence Scheme, supports those working in the plant industry. Established in 2003, the CPCS is empowered to provide guidance, impose regulations, and deliver internal training courses designed for plant operatives. As per all CSCS card programmes, the CPCS ‘blue’ card denotes that the owner is fully-qualified in their respective occupation. After all training modules and assessments have been completed, workers can apply for their ‘blue’ skilled worker’s card (clearly, this includes successfully navigating an NVQ Level 2 or equivalent course). On successful receipt of this card, individuals can discard their ‘red’ training card.


In order to gain the NVQ Level 2 in Construction Operations, you’ll need to complete a number of training units. Modules are categorized and split into three lists. It is compulsory to sit all four learning units from the ‘mandatory’ lists, but you have the option of choosing any one module from each of the other two remaining lists. Therefore, in total, you’ll cover six different modules.

The four key units cover the general tasks and duties that all plant operatives must be comfortable executing. There is a specific health & safety module, which details all the key safety considerations you’ll need to be aware of whilst working on a construction site. There is also a further compliance component, focusing on work area protection, PPE, and safety equipment. Given the nature of the plant operative role, and the fact you’ll be often required to use heavy machinery when undertaking works, it’s essential to be fully versed in all safety practices and procedures. You should also endeavour to have a strong grasp of relevant government legislation in this area.

Module detail

The four compulsory units you’ll need to take when attending this course are as follows:

  • Conforming to General Health, Safety and Welfare in the workplace
  • Conforming to Productive Working Practices
  • Installing, Maintaining and Removing Work Area Protection and Safety Equipment
  • Moving, Handling, and Storing Resources
  • You’ll then select one training module from each of the following two lists:

List 1

  • Installing drainage
  • Pouring concrete to form structures

List 2

  • Controlling, Directing and Guiding the Operation of Plant or Machinery
  • Cutting, Drilling, and Shaping construction-related materials
  • Erecting and Dismantling Access/Working Platforms
  • Identifying and Marking the location of utilities apparatus and sub-structures
  • Installing, Constructing, Maintaining, Dismantling and Removing Temporary Works
  • Installing, Maintaining, and Removing Temporary Excavation Support
  • Laying, Placing or Applying construction-related materials
  • Locating and excavating to expose buried utility services
  • Installing Street Iron Work
  • Preparing and Mixing concrete and mortars
  • Preparing and Mixing construction-related materials
  • Preparing and Operating forward tipping dumpsters to receive transport and discharge materials
  • Preparing and Operating powered units, tools or pedestrian plant, machinery or equipment
  • Preparing and Operating ride-on rollers to compact materials
  • Reinstating ground condition
  • Slinging and Hand Signalling the movement of suspended loads


The option(s) you select should ideally correspond to the chosen course ‘pathway’ you’ve taken. There are eight pathways within the general framework of this particular NVQ. These are as follows:

  • Pathway 1: Modular Paving Pavement Construction
  • Pathway 2: Laying Kerbs and Channels
  • Pathway 3: General Building Operations
  • Pathway 4: Drainage Construction
  • Pathway 5: Structural Concreting
  • Pathway 6: Non-Structural Concreting
  • Pathway 7: General Construction
  • Pathway 8: Excavation and Reinstatement

Therefore, for example, if you’ve chosen to opt for Pathway 4: Drainage Construction, it would be appropriate to complete the ‘Installing drainage’ learning module.

The choice you make should be dependent on your expertise, and which aspect of the plant industry you enjoy the most. There are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ pathways or modules to take – just ensure that you’re comfortable with what each training unit entails and whether it will support you to move towards you’re targeted occupation.

Course cost and duration

Course costs vary significantly between learning providers. However, if you’re on an Apprenticeship training programme, your employer will cover training fees (supported through government schemes). If you’re an adult learner or moving to the industry from a different profession, you should be prepared to cover your course charges. Typically, the NVQ Level 2 Diploma in Construction Operations costs around £800 (inc. VAT), but prices can extend over the £1000 threshold. Conversely, some course facilitators offer training for less than £700. We would advise shopping around different providers, ensuring that you don’t sacrifice the quality of your training for the sake of saving some money.

The course length is entirely dependent on your experience, competency, and personal circumstances. The vast majority of private skills companies will allow you to complete your training at a pace that suits you. This could be a prolonged learning journey taken over a number of months, fitting around your current employment schedule or domestic commitments. Alternatively, you could opt for a more consolidated training plan, and attempt to get through the modules as quickly as possible. Furthermore, providers usually facilitate both classroom-based and remote learning. This will allow you to select a training approach that suits your learning style, your calendar, or both.

Please note that on average, a worker who has already gained some industry experience will complete this NVQ typically within 4-6 months.

Assessment structure

In order to demonstrate that you’ve appropriately mastered and understood the course content, you’ll need to present a portfolio of evidence. These materials will highlight your technical skills, theoretical knowledge, and health & safety awareness. There are various pieces of evidence that can be used to illustrate that you’ve achieved the desired level of competence. These are as follows:

  • A satisfactory observation report produced by a fully qualified assessor
  • Personally written assignments or reports
  • Witness testimony. This will involve your employer confirming, in writing, that you can compliantly deliver a particular task
  • Photographic images of work conducted
  • Recognition of prior learning. This could be a certificate obtained on a relevant, previous training course.
  • Record of oral and written questioning pulled together in exam conditions.

An assessor will grade your portfolio, and determine whether you’ve delivered enough evidence to achieve the NVQ Level 2 standard. All NVQ assessment tasks should be coordinated in adherence to the Construction Skills Assessment Strategy.

What next?

After passing your NVQ Level 2 and acquiring your CPCS blue card, you may at some stage become keen to advance your career in the industry. To do so, you’ll need to engage in further learning, and of course, gain plenty of workplace experience. There are courses which will support you to become more proficient in plant operations, and therefore open the door to more challenging and lucrative positions. Beyond achieving this, you may want to consider a supervisory or leadership position. In any scenario, you’ll need the appropriate qualification to support your future job application. Completing the following NVQs will serve to help your future career ambitions in this respect:

  • NVQ Level 3 Diploma in Construction Contracting Operations
  • NVQ Level 4 Diploma in Construction Site Supervision (Construction)
  • NVQ Level 6 Diploma in Construction Site Management (Construction)

In Summary

Hopefully, you’ve now developed an understanding of what the NVQ Level 2 in Construction Operations entails, and its essential importance to the plant industry. Passing this course will support you towards obtaining your blue CPCS card, and make you an attractive candidate for prospective employers. Therefore, if entering or currently working in the plant sector, we would hugely encourage you to take on this qualification!

If you require any further information on CPCS cards or NVQ courses, we recommend you liaise with your course tutor, speak to an industry professional, or visit any of the following webpages:

If you’re about to attend your NVQ Level 2 course, we wish you the best of luck, and hope that it serves as the first step towards a long and prosperous career in the plant industry!