Competency Based QCF Procurement Qualifications

Following a collaboration between Awarding Organisations, Gateway Qualifications and ABC Awards, together with members of the Procurement & Supply Chain Management Association (PSCMA), the relevant Sector Skills Council and Employers, a comprehensive suite of “competency-based” QCF procurement qualifications have been developed to replace the suite of “old” Supply Chain Management (SCM) NVQs.

What is involved in achieving a QCF Procurement Qualification?

The Procurement Diplomas are “competency” based meaning that students not only have to prove their knowledge and understanding but also have to demonstrate the application of knowledge in the workplace by carrying out the practical activities contained within the “units of competence” included in the procurement qualifications. This is achieved by putting a portfolio together using outputs of work e.g. tender docs, emails, contract docs, spreadsheets etc…The qualifications are very practical as the individual is expected to demonstrate their procurement skills and their procurement organisation will be effectively benchmarked against the qualifications which represent the latest procurement/supply chain practice. If there are any gaps in systems and procedures, the qualifications will highlight these. These qualifications can also be used as an effective personal development tool i.e. by selecting optional units for activities which may be currently outside the student’s current role with the organisation providing the appropriate opportunities for them to gain the required experience to prove their competency for these units.

Who are these qualifications suitable for?

These work-based qualifications are suitable for procurement/supply chain practitioners who wish to prove their competency and demonstrate the application of knowledge and understanding in the workplace instead of perhaps taking knowledge-based exams only. These qualifications have the support of major UK employers both in the Public and Private Sector and provide a significant amount of knowledge, understanding and skills development that underpins occupational competence in the Procurement and Supply Chain Sector.

Which level is suitable for me?

There are no specific entry requirements for these qualifications, but learners should be in a suitable job role to enable them to prove their competency at the appropriate level. As a guide, the following QCF levels and job roles will apply:

Level 3 – These qualifications are suitable for trainee buyers just starting their career in a procurement and supply environment, or for a purchasing/ procurement assistant. They would also suit learners with delegated procurement responsibilities who work outside of a formal procurement and supply environment.

Level 4 and 5* – These qualifications may be suitable for learners in the following job roles:

  • Buyer
  • Procurement/Purchasing Executive
  • Procurement Specialist
  • Contract Officer
  • Supply Chain/Inventory/Logistics Analyse
  • Supply Chain/Inventory/Logistics Planner
  • Assistant Category Manager
  • Category Specialist
  • Contracts Engineer
  • Procurement Officer
  • Supplier Relationship Specialist

Level 6 – These qualifications may be suitable for learners in the following job roles:

  • Strategic /Senior /Purchasing or Procurement Manager
  • Head of Commercial Services
  • Supply Chain Manager
  • Head of Logistics/Transport
  • Operations Manager
  • Senior Procurement Advisor
  • Head of Procurement/Purchasing
  • Senior Procurement Specialist
  • Senior Buyer/Category Manager

What about Professional Accreditation?

Levels (NQF) 4 or 5 of the former Supply Chain Management NVQs, together with appropriate experience, used to be accepted for full membership of the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (MCIPS). There has been a “competency route” to MCIPS available until now for over 15 years. It is disappointing, therefore, that following a so-called “mapping” exercise to compare their academic qualifications with the QCF Procurement Diplomas, CIPS have decided not to accept these NVQ replacements for membership. Their decision has effectively disenfranchised many procurement practitioners who are unable for various reasons to take their examination route to obtain full membership.

However, the Institute of Supply Chain Management (IoSCM) will accept the new QCF Procurement Diplomas for the membership grades as shown in the table above.

For further information, see

The International Institute for Advanced Purchasing & Supply (IIAPS) has confirmed that “after reviewing the comprehensive and extensive materials” submitted to the “someone with the Level 6 Diploma in Procurement (QCF) (assuming they have over three years work-related experience) will satisfy the IIAPS entry requirements for participation in the International Green Belt in Advanced Purchasing and Supply Programme. See for further information.

Whilst professional accreditation is desirable it should not be seen as essential as it is the level of qualification achieved that is relevant. A commitment to continuous professional development (CPD) is now the norm for most people contemplating the advancement of their career. It is essential, therefore, that both employers and employees alike choose educational pathways that best suit the individual and also the wider training and development objectives of the organisation. For many individuals and employers work-based qualifications offer the ideal solution owing to their flexibility and practical nature which not only confirms knowledge and understanding but also the practical application of procurement skills.

For further information:


Stefan Thresh

Managing Director

Qube Vocational Development Ltd


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