Last updated - 23rd November 2010
Departments can use the framework in a number of ways to develop policy capability.
This guidance is intended primarily as a resource for departmental Heads of Policy Profession and their policy professionalism teams, as a basis for discussions with HR colleagues when planning for use of the Policy Skills Framework. It should complement the general principles set out in Embedding professional skills: principles of good practice for professions, departments and devolved administrations (PDF, 423kb).
The Policy Profession Support Unit is asking departments, through their departmental Head of Policy Profession, to share the Policy Skills Framework with policy colleagues and look for ways to ensure it is used. The Policy Profession Support Unit will continue to work with departments to understand and, where possible, support the department’s plans for using the skills framework and to share experiences, good practice and lessons learned across departments and DAs.
Given the current refresh of the Professional Skills for Government (PSG) competency framework and the move to shared services in a number of areas of HR, we are not urging departments to make immediate significant changes to HR systems, although some departments have already begun work with this, and others are beginning to use it to drive up capability within policy teams.
The Policy Profession's longer term aim is for this single Policy Skills Framework to be in use across all departments to provide consistent policy standards across government. That means that departments need to plan to adopt the framework as it stands, without modification.
In the longer term, the profession aspires to the framework being used in the following ways:
To help individuals working in policy roles develop the skills they need
As part of the performance management process
To inform talent management, career and workforce planning
As a basis for internal and external recruitment
To inform reviews of departmental policy capability
Individuals can self assess against the skills in the framework and use that self assessment as the basis for a discussion with their manager about their development needs
Learning and development opportunities can be signposted using the skills set out in the policy skills framework, so that individuals and managers are clear on how any skills gaps can be addressed
Managers can use the skills framework to undertake assessments of the strengths and weaknesses in their teams, to inform allocation of work and team development plans
Managers can use the framework to discuss with individuals and teams the standards that are expected of them
At the start of the performance management year, managers can discuss with individuals their current standard of performance against professional policy skills, and set objectives. These discussions will include assessment against the current expected standard of performance and, for high performing candidates, a discussion of how they progress to the next level in particular areas of skill and performance
Subsequent performance management discussions throughout the year will review progress against professional skill objectives
End of year discussions can review overall performance against objectives, and of skill development in professional policy skills
Performance development review forms (or equivalent) can encourage individuals to focus on developing their professional policy skills
In the unfortunate event that disciplinary action must be taken based on poor performance, this can be evidenced against the policy professional standards set out in the skills framework
Role profiles can be created using the skills set out in the Policy Skills Framework
Performance management data based on the Policy Skills Framework can be collated centrally to help identify high performing candidates for career development and talent management
The same data can be used to plan for transfer of key skills to critical areas, where appropriate
Applications for promotion and promotion panels require evidence of professional policy skills, and construct assessments (where appropriate) to test the skills in the Policy Skills Framework
Job descriptions can be created using the skills set out in the Policy Skills Framework
Key skills requirements for roles can be set out using the standards in the Policy Skills Framework
Application forms can ask for examples of where a candidate has demonstrated professional policy skills
Candidates can be asked to give examples of where they have demonstrated professional policy skills during interview
Assessment centres (where used) can be designed to assess professional policy skills
There will be times when departments wish to appoint candidates who don’t have a background in policy work. Departments may wish to consider their policy on this where it means that candidates cannot directly demonstrate the skills in the framework, but may be able to give evidence of similar experiences and/or high potential to develop in a policy role. This could include, for example, ensuring that the first development plan is based on skills in the framework (see Section 1)
The Policy Skills Framework is designed predominantly as a tool for assessing individual performance. However the three key themes in the framework also provide a helpful basis for assessing overall team or departmental capability. This could include the department’s overall performance in:
Use of a sound evidence base for policy development
Managing the challenges of working in a political context
Focusing on delivery from the outset and ensuring effective delivery