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Career Pathways

Members of the GSS Careers team answer your questions on Career pathways

What is a career pathway?

A career pathway is everything that is on offer for a particular career role or Civil Service Profession. The pathway sets out what you can do, how far you can go, how you get there, what learning is available…It gives you all the guidance you need to see how to get there for a particular career or role.

It won’t be a prescriptive route; your career pathway will not tell you what you “have to do”, rather it will tell you what you could do if you wanted to have a specific career: these are the things that you could do that will take you there. It’s your potential pathway to a higher grade or another role.

The  career pathways will work both for attracting the right people and to ensuring good levels of retention of staff with the skills needed. Both staff and job candidates will have a clear view on how to progress in their careers.

And what will be in it for staff?

We’ll be able to look at our career pathways, and ask ourselves: “Where am I in this career pathway? Where do I want to go? What should I be doing to be progressing in my profession? What learning is available to help me progress through the career pathway? What continued professional development should I be doing to remain current and up to date within my profession? Am I performing as set up on my career pathway and my profession? ” and then take that to our review and discuss with our line manager.

At which stage are you now in the development of career pathways?

The GSS Careers team has started developing career pathways for statisticians and data scientists, and Operation Delivery Profession (ODP) and Data Analysts. The goal is to have career pathways for all professions.

The statisticians and data science pathway is intended to be applicable across the Government Statistical Service (GSS) and so will provide guidance for statisticians and data scientists across all government departments. The ODP pathway is much more focused on ONS staff and we expect to launch the pilot in September 2017.

In the wider Civil Service, Professions are developing career pathways. The Operational Delivery Profession have been very proactive in developing career pathways and have a career mapper which shows the wide variety of roles in operational delivery and helps you see where you fit the profession. The mapper sets out those skills we are using in our current roles, let’s us see what skills are needed in other roles, and shows us how we can build up extra skills we’ll need, making it easier to move across and up in the profession. By exploring a ODP/Data Analyst career pathway ONS are developing a new ODP skills family that can be used in ONS and across the GSS Community.

Who will decide which is our career pathway?

Each member of staff will be able to look at the available career pathways and decide which is the one for them. A good career pathway should set up how to enter the career and how to progress along it but it’s up to the individuals themselves to identify their own career aspirations, discuss with their line manager, and seek the support they require. The onus is on us to be proactive and “travel” along the pathway!

Will we be able to join a career pathway at any time during our careers?

Yes, there are no limits of age or membership other than those required to enter a profession. For example, for the statisticians career pathway there are qualifications/experience needed to enter the profession but once you get those, there is no barrier to enter the profession as long as you be assessed into it.

In the ODP career pathway there’s a fair amount of self-assessment, thinking where are you at the moment in terms of skills, assessing yourself, and providing evidence of how you apply those skills in your role.

Will we be able to move to another career pathway?

Yes, if you want to re-train and re-skill, and you have the relevant entry requirements, then you can. You will be able to look at the entry requirements for your profession of choice and if you match them then you can move to another career pathway. If you don’t have those qualifications, the career pathway will guide you to find out how to acquire them.

So is following a career pathway a guarantee of promotion?

No, the career pathway will provide you with clarity and guidance along the way, but you will need to go through the usual procedure and competency-based assessment for a promotion.

Is there an end to the “travel” on a career pathway?

Well, I suppose at some point you cannot progress any higher within ONS…when you become the National Statistician! Again it will depend on the “traveler” who goes along their career pathway, to define where their aspirations sit. Career pathways are not intended to be prescriptive in that way, they will guide you: this is the progression that is available to you in your career, and this is how you can go about achieving this.

Can we “opt out” of a career pathway?

I guess you could! There’s not a “signing in” or “out” of a career pathway. But there are many benefits to being in a career pathway, it’s there to guide you and support you on the way to growing your skills and experience. A career pathway will encourage you to take advantage of the opportunities to develop through a defined learning pathway and will give you the tools to log your continual professional development.

You can use the career pathway in the way that suits you. Maybe you don’t want to progress, maybe you want to develop your skills in other areas…. it’s up to you how you use the career pathway. Say that you are a statistician and you decide you want to develop your management and leadership skills, or you are a manager but want to develop your technical skills: the career pathway will provide a coherent and consistent guidance and options on a route for you to take.

You mentioned learning pathways. What’s the difference between a career pathway and a learning pathway?

GSS Careers are developing the career pathways for the professions. We are working closely with the Learning Academy, who will deliver the learning pathways that will underpin the career pathways. Ultimately a learning pathway is intended to help you to develop the skills and knowledge needed to progress along the career pathway that it supports.

Can you tell us more about learning pathways?

We are at very early stages of development but just as career pathways are not prescriptive, learning pathways won’t be prescriptive either. If you find a course/training/initiative that you believe will fit in your career pathway, and you can demonstrate it to your line manager, then you’ll be able to do it.

You may also find out that you are already doing initiatives proposed by your learning pathway, then the career pathway will help you formalise that training. There will be strong elements of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) available to all with CPD logs, which are currently available for some professions but not all of them.

Please contact GSS.Career.Strategy@ons.gov.uk  with any further questions.