Transformation Directorate

Competency framework development


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The aim of the National Competency Framework for data professionals is to provide a key building block for the professionalisation of the data and analytical workforce, to underpin career pathways and continuing professional development of the data and analytical community.

Work commenced in 2021 on the discovery phase of a national competency framework for data professionals.

Next came the alpha development and testing, in which an initial framework was developed and tested at a small number of sites. From this it was clear there was an appetite for a standardised competency framework.

The beta testing phases 1 and 2 took place during 2022. The purpose of this testing was to see, at scale, how teams and individuals could engage with the framework in day-to-day activities on an ongoing basis and to look at ways to refine and enhance the framework.

Between January and March 2023, Beta Phase 3 has focused on developing modules around leadership, working in projects and behaviours, as well as beginning the development of an online tool to support the rollout of the framework.

Further details of each of the stages of development can be found below, and for the latest news on the framework follow us on Linkedin

National Competency Framework Tool

Early Adopter sites will be using a spreadsheet version of the Framework to help support their implementation

This tool is being used whilst a more interactive online resource is developed

If you wish to find out what is in the Framework we have made a pdf version available for you to view content

Please feel free to download a copy and see what you think

If you have any feedback, please contact either or

Early Adopter Programme

The early adopter programme commenced in May 2023. We have 8 organisations, from different areas of the country and a variety of organisational tiers, taking part.

Each organisation is looking at how they can utilise the framework and are developing implementation plans and logic models to evaluate the successes and challenges of adopting the NCF

Keep checking back for further updates and don't forget to follow us on Linkedin

National Competency Framework Rollout

Target for Release: October 2nd, 2023

National Competency Framework

For Data Professionals in Health and Care

Keep checking back for further updates and don't forget to follow us on Linkedin

Beta Phase 3

Phase III is taking the learning from the onsite testing and applying it in three workstreams:

  1. Expanding the framework to include new modules for Leadership & Management, Project Management, and Behaviours
  2. Developing an ‘Implementation Plan’ for national rollout across Health and Care organisations
  3. Developing an ‘Online Tool’ for the framework, to include the competencies, self-assessment and links to development

Working groups have been established for each workstream and this work will be completed by the end of March 2023

The latest information on the different workstreams in Beta Stage 3 is available on the FutureNHS site.

Beta Phases 1 and 2

Beta framework testing: (Sept 22 - Oct 22) covering all of the data family across:

  • 44 organisations/ 170+ Testers,
  • ensuring all regions included,
  • a range of organisational types,
  • and where possible clusters of organisations within the same ICS to promote cross organisational working and standardisation.

Testing the practical application of the competency framework in teams and how it can be used to support:

  1. Staff Recruitment
  2. Staff Development
  3. Professional Registration

Using a Mixed Methods approach to capture feedback from testing sites, 123 staff members participated in at least one weekly survey and 26 staff were interviewed.

Throughout the four weeks, most testers (56-78%) reported positive comfort levels and thought they felt comfortable or very comfortable rolling the NCF to their peers. 16%-35% reported a neutral position and said they were neither comfortable nor uncomfortable.

Throughout the interviews, all parties agreed that the framework is required to the point of necessity for the professionalisation agenda, or indeed even to enable the data sector to be able to develop further.

The specific benefits mentioned were wide-ranging and emphatic, but overall, the benefits of standardisation leapt out for workforce parity and the subsequent focus of resource on service improvement. Everyone felt their day-to day activities of recruitment and professional development were greatly enhanced by using the framework.

Further information on Beta Phase 1 and Beta Phase 2 is available on FutureNHS.

Alpha Phase

The development and testing of the Alpha phase of the development of a National Competency Framework for Data Professionals in Health and Care.

The project undertook the following phases:

  • Recruitment of Contributors
  • Rediscovery
  • Initial Development
  • Testing
  • Remediation and Secondary Development
  • Secondary Testing
  • Remediation and Reporting

The second phase of testing was extended to include a specific team from within a central organisation to contribute specialist feedback. As this team would distort the accurate reflection of the health and care community, their feedback is not included in the statistics but their specialist guidance has been used to guide the recommendations.

Phase I

91% of respondents found it useful or really useful

18% of people had difficulty in using it

89% of people thought the framework was as good or better than any other framework they had used before

79% of people would support its roll out nationally

Phase II

100% of respondents found it useful or really useful

4% of people had difficulty in using it

96% of people thought the framework was as good or better than any other framework they had used before

90% of people would support its roll out nationally (97% after modifications)

You can also read the Alpha Stage Evaluation report and the Alpha Stage Competency Framework booklet for additional information.

Discovery Phase

The work undertaken in the discovery phase fell into three distinct sections:

  • Literature search and desktop review;
  • Semi-structured interview with selected analytical leaders;
  • Online survey of the analytical community.

During the desktop review a total of 28 competency frameworks were examined in detail. 18 were dismissed because they did not provide any material to describe or develop professional analysts.

The remaining 10 frameworks, all containing significant detail about analytical job roles and career progression, originated from within the NHS, AphA or the UK Government/Civil Service and have the potential to contribute to a framework which encompasses all analytical roles within the NHS.

There was no uniformly recognised competency framework for healthcare analysts in the UK and there were no international examples which could be pressed into service

Within the UK, however, the Government Analytical Framework provided a helpful model to standardise job roles, define technical and generic skills and skill attainment levels, and map out career pathways.

There was a good deal of enthusiasm and support for the development of the framework. It was felt that it would help define the health and care analyst profession and potentially encourage more young people to consider healthcare analysis as a career choice.

In light of the findings of the discovery phase, the Alpha phase of the development of a National Competency Framework for Data Professionals in Health and Care was commenced

There is also additional information in the Landscape Scoping Paper