Knowledge training and experience

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This factor measures all the forms of knowledge required to fulfil the job responsibilities satisfactorily. This includes theoretical and practical knowledge; professional, specialist or technical knowledge; and knowledge of the policies, practices and procedures associated with the job. It takes account of the educational level normally expected as well as the equivalent level of knowledge gained without undertaking a formal course of study; and the practical experience required to fulfil the job responsibilities satisfactorily. 

The job requires: 

Level 1:  Understanding of a small number of routine work procedures which could be gained through a short induction period or on the job instruction.
Level 2: Understanding of a range of routine work procedures possibly outside immediate work area, which would require a combination of on-the-job training and a period of induction.
Level 3: Understanding of a range of work procedures and practices, some of which are non-routine, which require a base level of theoretical knowledge. This is normally acquired through formal training or equivalent experience.
Level 4: Understanding of a range of work procedures and practices, the majority of which are non-routine, which require intermediate level theoretical knowledge. This knowledge is normally acquired through formal training or equivalent experience.
Level 5: Understanding of a range of work procedures and practices, which require expertise within a specialism or discipline, underpinned by theoretical knowledge or relevant practical experience.
Level 6: Specialist knowledge across the range of work procedures and practices, underpinned by theoretical knowledge or relevant practical experience.
Level 7: Highly developed specialist knowledge across the range of work procedures and practices, underpinned by theoretical knowledge and relevant practical experience.
Level 8: (a) Advanced theoretical and practical knowledge of a range of work procedures and practices, or (b) specialist knowledge over more than one discipline/function acquired over a significant period.
Definitions and notes: 

Evaluating/matching under Factor 2: knowledge, training and experience

Knowledge is the most heavily weighted factor in the NHS JE Scheme and often makes a difference between one pay band and the next. It is, therefore, important that jobs are correctly evaluated or matched under this factor heading. The following notes are intended to assist evaluation and matching panel members to achieve accurate and consistent outcomes.

It is very important to get the KTE factor level right. Care must be taken to recognise all knowledge, skills and experience required irrespective of whether a formal qualification is required. General education, previous skills or experience and the amount of in-house or mandatory training needed must be taken into account.

Please be aware that skills levels used by education and qualification organisations, e.g. Skills for Health (SfH), are not equivalent to NHS JE Scheme factor levels. For example a SfH level 2 does not equate to a band 2 job or even that the KTE is level 2.

Advice from Staff Council makes it clear that person specifications are not always enough to assess the level of knowledge required for a job.

General points

1. The level of knowledge to be assessed

1.1 The knowledge to be measured is the minimum needed to carry out the full duties of the job to the required standards.

1.2 In some cases, this will be the level required at entry and set out in the person specification, for example:

  • An accountancy job for which the person specification sets out the need for an accountancy qualification plus experience of health service financial systems.
  • A healthcare professional job, for which the person specification sets out the requirement for the relevant professional qualification plus knowledge and/or experience in a specified specialist area.

1.3 In other cases, however, the person specification may understate the knowledge actually needed to carry out the job because it is set at a recruitment level on the expectation that the rest of the required knowledge will be acquired in-house through on the job training and experience, for example:

  • Clerical posts for which the recruitment level of knowledge is a number of GCSEs, whereas the actual knowledge required includes a range of clerical and administrative procedures. 
  • Managerial posts for which the recruitment level of knowledge is a number of GCSEs plus a specified period of health service experience, when the actual knowledge required includes the range of administrative procedures used by the team managed plus supervisory/managerial knowledge or experience.
  • Healthcare jobs where a form of specialist knowledge is stated on the person specification as desirable, rather than essential, because the organisation is willing to provide training in the particular specialist field.

1.4 The number of years’ service should not be used as a rationale for justifying a certain factor level. It is possible that using the number of years’ service contravenes the age discrimination legislation.

2. Qualifications and experience

2.1 The factor level definitions are written in terms of the knowledge actually required to perform the job at each level. This is to ensure that the knowledge is accurately evaluated and no indirect discrimination occurs through use of qualifications, which may understate or overstate the knowledge required.

2.2 Qualifications can provide a useful indicator of the level of knowledge required. Training towards qualifications is also one means of acquiring the knowledge required for a job (other means include on-the-job training, short courses and experience). Indicative qualifications are given in the guidance notes. This does not mean that there is a requirement to hold any particular qualification for a job to be scored at the level in question, but that the knowledge required must be of an equivalent level to the stipulated qualification.

2.3 On the other hand, if a job does genuinely require the knowledge acquired through a specified formal qualification, then this should be taken into account when assessing the job.

2.4 It is important that panels clarify what qualifications and/or experience are actually needed for a job and ensure they understand what the qualification or experience is – this may involve asking questions of the job advisors to ensure that the level expected of someone is the level at which the job will be carried out competently, rather than that relating to recruitment level. It is sometimes useful to match or evaluate the other job factors first prior to the KTE factor in cases where there is doubt about the level for factor 2, because a better idea of the job demands will emerge from this process.

2.5 Where qualification and/or experience requirements for a job have changed, the current requirements should be taken as the necessary standard to be achieved. As it is the job which is evaluated, jobholders with previous qualifications are deemed to have achieved the current qualification level through on-the-job learning and experience.

2.6 It is not advisable to match or evaluate using a person specification and qualification levels alone. Knowledge must be assessed in the context of demands and responsibilities of the whole job. Panels should always check that, should a qualification be set in the person spec, that this is actually required for the job.

3. Registration

3.1 Registration with a professional body is not directly related to either knowledge generally, or to any particular level of knowledge, e.g. level 5.

3.2 Registration is important in other contexts because it provides guarantees of quality, but in job evaluation terms it gives only confirmation of a level of knowledge which would have been taken into account in any event.

3.3 As it happens, many healthcare professional jobs require knowledge at level 5, and also require state registration for professional practice. But it would be perfectly possible for other groups where there is either a higher or lower knowledge requirement for this to be associated with state or professional registration.

4. Using factors 2 and 12

4.1 JEG is aware that there are concerns expressed by job evaluation panels relating to factor 2, which may have led to some short cuts being taken. One of the most common short cuts is that of matching or evaluating factors 2 and 12 in isolation of the other factors, which will often lead to panels ‘shoe-horning’ roles into profiles and may lead to an inaccurate band outcome.

4.2 It is crucial that panels are satisfied they have taken into account all information set out in the job description, person specification and any additional information, for example, organisational chart. The knowledge required for the job may be partly made up from on-the-job learning, short courses and significant experience which leads to a ‘step up’, as well as the level of qualification expected.

4.3 The correct way to identify a suitable profile is not by looking at factors 2 and 12 but by using the principle purpose of the job in the job descriptions and comparing this with the job statement at the top of a profile.

5, Job descriptions and person specifications


5.1 A good job description is needed for a robust job matching outcome, which should clearly articulate the requirements and competence for the role and a person specification stipulating the essential qualifications and/or experience required to be employed in the role.

5.2 Having up-to-date, agreed job descriptions is good HR practice and their main purpose is to ensure that employees and their line managers have a common understanding of what is required of the jobholder. The required information is generally set out in the form of a list of job duties.

5.3 Similarly, having person specifications available for all posts is good HR practice because it facilitates the recruitment process.

5.4 Job descriptions should not follow the national JE profile format as profiles are not job descriptions and do not fulfil the main purpose of having job descriptions.

5.5 Information required for matching, which is not usually included in job descriptions of person specifications (for example, in relation to the effort and environment factors) can be collected by other means, for instance, by short questionnaire or through oral evidence.

5.6 Some job descriptions may not be clear on the level of knowledge, training and experience required, but it is the panel’s duty to find out by asking further questions.

5.7 If your current practices, in partnership do not comply with this advice, JEG recommends that you revisit matching outcomes to ensure they are robust.

Points specific to factor levels

 

Small number of routine work procedures (Level 1) includes those that could normally be learned on the job without prior knowledge or experience.

Short induction period (Level 1)
is generally for days rather than weeks.

 

The difference between levels 1 and 2

 

The difference is in the range of procedures and, in consequence, the length of time it takes to acquire knowledge of the relevant procedures.

Job training (Level 2) refers to training that is typically provided on the job through a combination of instruction and practice or by attending training sessions. At this level the required knowledge generally takes weeks in the job to learn and may include some elements of theoretical learning. It also refers to the knowledge required for Large Goods Vehicle or Passenger Carrying Vehicle licences.

The difference between levels 2 and 3

Both levels 2 and 3 apply to jobs requiring understanding of a range of work procedures. The differences are over:

  • Whether the procedures are routine or involve non-routine elements.
  • Whether it is necessary to have theoretical or conceptual understanding to support the procedural knowledge, such as that acquired in obtaining NVQ3, Vocational Qualifications level 3 and similar qualifications.

For areas of work where there are no commonly accepted equivalent qualifications:

  • Level 2 applies to jobs requiring knowledge of a range of routine procedures.
  • Level 3 applies to jobs requiring knowledge of the relevant procedures, plus knowledge of how to deal with related non-routine activities, such as answering queries, progress chasing, task-related problem solving.

Base level of theoretical knowledge (Level 3) equates to NVQ level 3, Vocational Qualifications level 3, GCE AS and A level, Baccalaureate Qualification Advanced or equivalent level of knowledge.

Equivalent experience (Levels 3 and 4)
refers to experience which enables the jobholder to gain an equivalent level of knowledge.

The difference between levels 3 and 4

Both levels 3 and 4 apply to jobs requiring understanding of a range of work procedures and practices. The differences are:

  • the extent to which the procedures and practices are non-routine
  • the level of the equivalent qualifications.

For areas of work where there are no commonly accepted equivalent qualifications, eg health service administrative areas such as admissions, medical records, waiting lists:

  • Level 3 – procedures and practices, some of which are non-routine – applies to jobs requiring knowledge of the relevant administrative procedures, plus knowledge of how to deal with related non-routine activities, such as answering queries, progress chasing, task-related problem solving.
  • Level 4 – procedures and practices, the majority of which are non-routine – applies to jobs requiring knowledge of all the relevant administrative procedures, plus knowledge of how to deal with a range of non-routine activities, such as work allocation, problem solving for a team or area of work, as well as answering queries and progress chasing, developing alternative or additional procedures.

Intermediate level of theoretical knowledge (Level 4) equates to a Higher National Certificate, Vocational Qualifications level 4 or 5, foundation degree, Higher National Diploma, Diploma in Higher Education, AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) Technician Level or other diploma or equivalent level of knowledge.

The difference between levels 4 and 5

The differences between levels 4 and 5 are:

  • the breadth and depth of the knowledge requirement
  • the level of the equivalent qualifications.

For areas of work where there are no commonly accepted equivalent qualifications:

  • Level 4 – procedures and practices, the majority of which are non-routine – applies to jobs requiring knowledge of all the relevant administrative procedures, plus knowledge of how to deal with a range of non-routine activities, such as work allocation, problem solving for a team or area of work, as well as answering queries and progress chasing, developing alternative or additional procedures.
  • Level 5 – range of work procedures and practices, which require expertise within a specialism or discipline – applies to jobs requiring knowledge across an area of practice, e.g. in purchasing, medical records, or finance, allowing the jobholder to operate as an independent (non-healthcare or healthcare) practitioner and to deal with issues such as workload management and problem solving across the work area. It can apply to non-healthcare jobs with a managerial remit across an administrative or other support area where these criteria are met, e.g.¬ in hotel services, catering, sterile supplies management.

Expertise within a specialism (Level 5) normally requires degree level, Honours degree, Vocational Qualifications level 6 or an equivalent level of knowledge. This level of knowledge could also be obtained through an in-depth diploma plus significant experience. Jobs requiring a degree or an equivalent level of knowledge e.g. registered general nurse, should be scored at this level.

The difference between levels 5 and 6

There must be a clear step in knowledge requirements between levels 5 and 6, so for both healthcare professional (e.g. nurse, allied health professional, biomedical scientist jobs) and non-healthcare professional (e.g. HR, accountant, librarian, IT) jobs, a distinct addition of knowledge compared to what was acquired during basic training and required for professional practice.

This additional knowledge may be acquired by various routes:

(a) normal training and accreditation, as for a district nurse, health visitor

(b) other forms of training/learning e.g. long or combination of short courses or structured self-study

(c) experience

(d) some combination of (b) and (c).

In broad terms the additional knowledge for level 6 should equate to post-registration or post-graduate diploma level (that is, between first degree/registration and master’s level), but there is no requirement to hold such a diploma.

It is important to note that not all experience delivers the required additional knowledge for level 6. Simply doing a job for a number of years may make the jobholder more proficient at doing the job, but does not always result in additional knowledge. Also, while most additional knowledge, particularly for healthcare professional jobs, is specialist knowledge (that is, homing in on an area of practice and deepening the knowledge of that area acquired during basic training), some is a broadening of basic knowledge to a level which allows the jobholder to undertake all areas of practice without any guidance or supervision.

For additional specialist knowledge, indicators of level 6 knowledge, acquired primarily through experience are, for example, a requirement to have worked:

  • In the specialist area and with practitioners from own or another profession who are experienced in this area.
  • In the specialist area and to a clear programme of knowledge development, for example, rotating through all aspects of the specialist work, attending appropriate study days and short courses, undertaking self-study.

For additional breadth of knowledge, examples of level 6 are:

  • The midwife, who undertakes a formal mentoring or preceptorship to achieve a level of knowledge allowing the full sphere of midwifery practice to be undertaken.
  • The community psychiatric nurse, where the jobholder would need to have acquired sufficient additional post-registration knowledge through experience as a nurse in a mental health setting to be able to work autonomously in the community.
  • The specialist AHP professional or therapist, where the jobholder needs additional knowledge acquired through (formal and informal) specialist training and experience in order to be able to manage a caseload of clients with complex needs.
  • A human resources professional required to have sufficient additional knowledge gained through experience to be able to be the autonomous HR adviser for a directorate or equivalent organisational area, or for an equivalent subject area of responsibility.
  • An accountancy job requiring knowledge gained through professional qualifications plus sufficient additional knowledge of health service finance systems to be responsible for the accounts for one or more directorates.
  • An estates management job requiring knowledge gained through professional qualifications (or equivalent vocational qualifications) plus sufficient additional knowledge of health service capital procurement procedures and practices to be able to manage part or all of the capital projects programme for the organisation.

Specialist knowledge (level 6) refers to a level of knowledge and expertise which can be acquired through either in-depth experience or theoretical study of a broad range of techniques/processes relating to the knowledge area. This equates to post-registration/graduate diploma level or equivalent in a specific field. This level also refers to the specialist organisational, procedural or policy knowledge required to work across a range of different areas. The jobholder is influential within the organisation in matters relating to his/her area and provides detailed advice to other specialists and non-specialists.

The difference between levels 6 and 7

There must be a further clear step in knowledge between levels 6 and 7, equivalent to the step between a post-graduate diploma and master’s degree, in terms of both the length of the period of knowledge acquisition and the depth or breadth of the knowledge acquired.

This additional knowledge may be acquired by various routes:

(a) formal training and accreditation to master’s or doctorate level, as for clinical pharmacist, clinical psychologist or a qualification deemed to be equivalent, eg health visitor Community Practice Teacher, Diploma in Arts Therapy

(b) other forms of training/learning eg long or combination of short courses or structured self-study

(c) experience (but see below)

(d) some combination of (b) and (c).

In broad terms the additional knowledge for level 7 should equate to master’s level (that is, between post-graduate diploma and doctoral level), but there is no requirement to hold such a degree.

As with the difference between levels 5 and 6, not all experience delivers the required additional knowledge for level 7. Simply doing a job for many years may make the jobholder more proficient at doing the job, but does not always result in additional knowledge. For level 7, experience on its own - as the means of acquiring sufficient, relevant additional knowledge - should be scrutinised carefully. There should normally be evidence of additional theoretical or conceptual knowledge acquisition such as would be acquired through a taught master’s course.

For additional specialist knowledge, indicators of level 7 knowledge, acquired primarily through experience, are, for example, a requirement to have worked:

  • in the specialist area and working pro-actively with practitioners from own or another profession who are experienced in this, together with relevant short courses and self-study
  • in the specialist area and to a clear and substantial programme of knowledge development, e.g. rotating and actively participating in all aspects of the specialist work, attending appropriate study days and short courses, undertaking extended self-study.

The additional specialist knowledge required could consist in part of managerial knowledge, where this is genuinely needed for the job and there is a requirement to attend management courses or have equivalent managerial experience.

Highly developed specialist knowledge (Level 7)
refers to knowledge and expertise which can only be acquired through a combination of in-depth experience and postgraduate or post-registration study, such as that obtained through a master’s degree or equivalent experience/qualification or doctorate, or significant formal training or research in a relevant field, in addition to short courses and experience. Jobs requiring a doctorate or equivalent knowledge as an entry requirement such as medical, dental, scientific or specialist management qualifications should be assessed at this level as a minimum.

The difference between levels 7 and 8

There must be a further clear step in knowledge between levels 7 and 8, equivalent to the step between a master’s degree and a doctorate, in terms of both the length of the period of knowledge acquisition and the depth or breadth of the knowledge acquired. Where the entry point for a job for knowledge is Level 7, because there is an entry requirement for a doctorate, masters or equivalent qualification, then the step in knowledge should be equivalent to that required for a post-graduate diploma (in addition to the entry qualification).

As at other levels, this additional knowledge may be acquired by various routes:

(a) formal training and accreditation to doctorate level, e.g. in scientific areas, where a specialist doctorate is required for practice in the particular field, or to post-doctorate level, e.g. a post including adult psychotherapy requiring both a clinical psychology doctorate and a post-doctorate diploma in psychotherapy

(b) other forms of training/learning e.g. long or combination of short courses or structured self-study to the appropriate level

(c) experience (but see below)

(d) some combination of (b) and (c).

As with the difference between levels 5 and 6, and 6 and 7, not all experience delivers the required additional knowledge for level 8. Simply doing a job for many years may make the jobholder more proficient at doing the job, but does not always result in additional knowledge. For level 8, experience on its own as the means of acquiring sufficient additional knowledge should be scrutinised carefully. There should normally be evidence of additional theoretical or conceptual knowledge acquisition such as would be acquired through a taught postgraduate course.

The additional specialist knowledge required could consist in part of managerial knowledge, where this is genuinely needed for the job and there is a requirement to attend management courses, or have equivalent managerial experience.

Advanced theoretical and practical knowledge (Level 8a) refers to the highest level of specialist knowledge within the relevant specialist field. It is equivalent to a doctorate plus further specialist training, research or study. It is, therefore, appropriate for posts requiring significant expertise and experience and where the entry level is a doctorate or equivalent e.g. healthcare or scientific consultant posts.

Specialist knowledge over more than one discipline/function (Level 8)
refers to extensive knowledge and expertise across a number of subject areas, i.e. a combination of some (i.e. two or more) disciplines/functions, e.g. clinical, research and development, human resources, finance, estates.

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