Discusses and analyses the implementation of the National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) from the perspective of educational/training institutions, employers and candidates both in the UK and overseas, with the aim of suggesting how the qualification, especially at levels 4 and 5, could be improved to better serve both employers and employees. Assesses the concept of use and exchange value, the benefits and costs of the NVQ, the extent of individual development achieved, reasons for the problems in attracting applicants, the support required by candidates, the reasons for low completion rates, the merits of dual accreditation or of offering academic-based modules to NVQ candidates, the problems of equating NVQs with academic qualifications and the need for external assessment. Summarizes some of the views expressed at the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) user forums in 1998 and 1999. Suggests that the NVQ would benefit from a new name, specified courses of study or training at higher levels, examinations and more varied and simplified assessment methods. Concludes that universities should play a role in the redesign of higher-level NVQs and that they should become awarding bodies.