National Occupational Standards

National Occupational Standards (NOS) are statements of the skills, knowledge and understanding needed for effective performance in a job role and are expressed as outcomes of competent performance.

In other words, they define good practice in the performance of individuals in the workplace based on the functions they perform; they can be regarded as the benchmark of competence required in the sector and form the key component of many qualifications. NOS are public documents and can be of immense value to individuals, employers and education and training providers. NOS specify the standards of performance that people are expected to achieve in their work, and the knowledge and skills they need to perform effectively.

The Development of any National Occupational Standard goes through a rigorous research, development, consultation and refinement process that is agreed by an industry led Steering Group and Government office in all four nations across the UK.

Structure of the standards

NOS are produced as a suite of units for each occupational area. Each ‘unit’ describes an area of work with the activities normally separated out into ‘elements’ with associated performance statements. These statements are detailed descriptions of the activities which represent effective performance of the tasks within the unit, a range of situations or circumstances and ‘knowledge’, the underpinning knowledge and understanding needed to effectively carry out tasks and responsibilities within the particular job role or function.

Who can use National Occupational Standards?

NOS are designed as a resource for individuals and organisations to use to improve their capacity and capability and can be used to help define job roles, measure staff performance and identify and develop routes for progression and professional development. Below are some examples of how both individuals and organisations can use NOS:

A copy of all National Occupational Standards can be found on the NOS database

Individuals can use NOS to:Organisations can use NOS to:
Develop their self confidence and enhance their personal effectiveness Identify and plan personnel requirements
Provide a means for determining gaps in knowledge, experience and skills Design and implement recruitment and selection processes
Offer an objective process for identifying training needs Develop job descriptions and person specifications for staff and volunteers
Ensure best practice Design, deliver and evaluate training
Support their professional development Use common standards of performance and quality in partnerships with other organisations and agencies
Open up a wider range of career opportunities Demonstrate the competence of the organisation when applying for funding or tendering for projects
Help to transfer their competence to other work situations. Plan appropriate development and training

NOS can also form the basis of qualifications from Apprenticeships and foundation degrees, to vocational qualifications.


This Exercise and Fitness NOS Core Knowledge Requirements document contains underpinning core knowledge requirements that could not be included within the National Occupational Standards templates but are equired by the sector.


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