Career Framework Descriptors and Agenda for Change


08 / 7 / 2011 12.56pm

There is recent evidence to indicate that the Skills for Health Career Framework is being used as a short cut to evaluating non-medical jobs, however this could lead to incorrect job banding and equal pay claims.

The NHS Job Evaluation Scheme measures the demands of jobs in order to place them into a grading structure, whereas the Career Framework identifies job competencies.

Skills for Health has produced Career Framework Descriptors levels 1-9 and recently has been working on developing these further for levels 1-4. In some places, the Career Framework uses similar language and terminology to the NHS Job Evaluation Scheme, but at different levels and with a different meaning.

The two systems are not interchangeable and the Career Framework should only be used to create career pathways for staff working in the NHS. The JE Scheme should only be used to measure the demands of jobs in order to give them a banding within the NHS pay scale.

Similarity of language

The language similarities between the Career Framework Descriptors and the NHS JE Scheme may lead people to believe there is a link between the two systems. The following are examples of where this may happen:

  • Because the Career Framework has nine levels and the JE Scheme has nine bands, there is a risk that organisations may link the two systems
  • The headings used for the Career Framework Descriptors use very similar language to that used in the JE Scheme, e.g. “Knowledge, Skills, Training and Experience”, “Freedom to Act”, “Policy and Service Development” so there is a possible risk of trying to interchange the two systems, when the phrases describe very different processes and facets of jobs
  • The language used to describe the various levels in the Career Framework Descriptors is strikingly similar to that used in the JE Scheme factor plan and in some cases is exactly the same, e.g. “highly developed specialist knowledge” is used at level 7 in both schemes, but in other examples it refers to very different levels, e.g. level 4 of the Career Framework Descriptors (Knowledge, Skills, Training and Experience) refers to “applying specialist knowledge” whereas a requirement for specialist knowledge does not arise until level 6 of the NHS JE Scheme factor.

Similarity of structure

The biggest and most worrying risk would be in incorrectly assuming that CFD level 1 relates to JE band 1, CFD level 2 relates to JE band 2, etc.  Although it is possible that this may be the case, this would be entirely by chance and it is the JE scheme which is the correct process to determine the outcome of the banding.


The only system valid for determining the banding of non-medical jobs in the NHS is the NHS Job Evaluation Scheme. The Job Evaluation Group of the NHS Staff Council acknowledges the work of Skills for Health in producing Career Pathway Descriptors, but is concerned that confusion and incorrect banding may occur when they are used within the service. The two systems are not meant to be interchangeable or correlate to each other in any way. 


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