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Policy Profession Skills Framework

The Policy Skills Framework sets out the skills, knowledge and behaviours that people in policy roles need.

Last updated - 7th September 2010

Policy work is about delivering changes in the real world. It relies on contributions from colleagues in other disciplines, including those on the front line – the Civil Service working as one team to achieve better policy outcomes. We know that better outcomes are achieved when policy is developed collaboratively across the wider Civil Service and with the private and voluntary sectors. It is also essential for us to adopt more innovative and joined up approaches if we are to deliver the changes that are required in the current challenging environment.

To support these ways of working we aim to build up the skills of all those working on policy. The Policy Skills Framework is an important part of this work, setting clear standards against which those involved in policy work can measure their performance and plan their development.

Structure of the Policy Skills Framework 

The Policy Skills Framework has been developed in consultation with people engaged in policy work across the Civil Service. It sets out the skills, knowledge and behaviours that people in policy roles need, and has been designed to reflect the way that policy is developed, drawing out four key elements of policy work:

  • understanding the context

  • developing the options

  • getting to a decision

  • making it happen.

These four elements are underpinned by three cross-cutting themes which need to be considered to deliver successful policy:

  • the importance of sound evidence as a basis for policy development

  • working in a political context 

  • focusing on delivery from the outset.

Policy Skills Framework map2

The resulting framework contains a set of twelve skills to be demonstrated at each level of performance. These are summarised in the table on the first page of the framework document. Within the more detailed framework, a range of examples are provided against each skill at each level to help you think about the work and experiences you could be undertaking to develop and demonstrate the relevant skill.

The Policy Skills Framework isn’t directly linked to grades, but instead is shown as four levels. This reflects the fact that policy work often requires the same skills to be used at all levels, applied to issues of different degrees of scale, complexity and ambiguity. We hope it will also help you to use the framework to help you develop your skills and performance irrespective of your current grade. In practice, we expect certain grades (or their equivalents) broadly to equate to certain levels of performance as a minimum:

  • EO – Level 1    

  • HEO and SEO – Level 2

  • Grades 6 & 7 – Level 3

  • SCS – Level 4

The Policy Skills Framework updates the existing Professional Skills for Government (PSG) policy delivery skills. It fits into the wider PSG framework which sets out the core skills that all civil servants need irrespective of their profession, including leadership, people management, financial and project management skills. Find out more about the PSG framework 

What does this mean in practice?

Over the next few months the Policy Profession Support Team will be working with departments and administrations to help them understand the Policy Skills Framework and how it should be used. Our longer term aim is for all departments and administrations to use this Policy Skills Framework alongside the PSG core skills as a basis for:

  • identifying individual and departmental skills gaps, and the learning and development activity needed to support people to acquire the skills set out in the framework

  • measuring individual and departmental performance against the standards set out in the framework

  • recruitment, by identifying standards against which to assess candidates for policy posts.

Policy Skills Framework

Policy at Civil Service Live 2010

At Civil Service Live 2010, the Policy Profession held a session led by Robert Devereux, Head of the Policy Profession across government.

Contact us

The Heads of Policy Profession are supported by the Policy Profession Support Unit based in Government Skills. For further details about the Policy Profession:

Email the Policy Profession Support Unit or by telephone on 020 7215 1412