This new online system has been developed to:

  • To assist FRS’s to more easily and fairly identify high performing candidates who are most suitable for professional development and career progression.
  • To provide individuals and those responsible for their development, with comprehensive, personalised performance feedback which can be used to inform further development pathways.
  • To create a stream-lined, transparent, consistent and cost-effective mechanism for identifying potential, future-proofing the efficacy of the FRS long-term.
  • Identify those individuals with strong levels of leadership potential at each stage of their career to support succession planning.

Current arrangements

Whilst FRS’s already have mechanisms in place for assessing potential and facilitating succession planning, issues experienced by using these methods include:

  • Time-consuming and costly to set up, administer and run due to, for example, the numbers of assessors and the facilities required
  • Lack consistency for example, processes being delivered for the same purpose changing over time and also being different in many FRSs creating inequality in opportunity for progression in different FRS’s;
  • Lack of sufficiently detailed feedback reporting post-assessment or adequate use of performance evaluations;
  • Inconsistent approaches to ‘in-band’ assessments;
  • Methods used may not meet standards of best practice i.e. exercises used are not always professionally designed, scoring frameworks are not integrated and validity/ reliability can be unclear.

The solution – an online assessment model

A ‘Career Progression Gateway’ (CPG) is an assessment/ selection event where an on-line system is used to facilitate performance evaluation. This system is straight-forward, candidate-friendly and intuitive, removing much of the stress associated with assessment events for all involved.

  • CPGs will be available for Crew, Watch, Station, Group and Area Managers. This delivers a predictability which is preferred by candidates, project managers and administrators. Firefighters at all levels will understand what ‘gateway’ activity involves if they decide to apply for promotion.
  • Each gateway will follow the same format at each level of progression; what will vary will be the level of complexity and detail. This means that project management and administrative staff will find it easier to work with methods which follow the same framework for each promotion process, every time. The detail of the activities will change regularly, the format will remain reassuringly familiar.
  • The consistency of gateway activities will make running the processes less time-consuming and more efficient. The same administrative materials to facilitate assessment can be repeatedly used, simply adapted by level and use. Printing of assessment materials will be unnecessary (except where candidates have special requirements).
  • With the CPG being primarily on-line the amount time and cost input by each FRS is significantly reduced. Log-ins, instructions and supporting materials will be supplied. All the FRS must do is schedule candidates to attend, providing a workplace computer in a quiet and private environment. Scheduling software can be used to support this process.
  • Assessment of performance in CPG activities will be done remotely by external assessors.
  • Any specific organisational requirements and concerns can be discussed prior to a CPG process and amendments to assessment activity and scoring criteria can be made where preferred. This might include reference to a specific type of initiative or including a particular value or testing of knowledge of particular relevance to that organisation.
  • Applications for organisational transfer will be more straight-forward. By FRS’s using consistent methods to assess suitability for progression, concerns across organisations regarding performance standards can be resolved.
  • Results reports will be generated automatically, providing organisations with a spreadsheet of scores in each activity, and overall scores. Organisations can make final decisions based on this information.
  • Detailed feedback reports will be generated for each candidate after the CPG has been completed. This will include a personalised psychological evaluation of strengths and development needs, plus suggestions for next steps in developing potential and skills. This will provide invaluable information to candidates and provide tools for managers to support their teams on key skills and behaviours.
  • All activities will meet British Psychological Society best practice guidelines for assessment and development. The CPGs will be designed by a team of Occupational Psychologists with in-depth FRS knowledge and experience.


The benefits of the CPG system lie in its simplicity, accessibility and low cost. It is easy to apply and adaptable. It ‘brings to life’ assessment activity through interactive and relevant tasks that both candidates and organisations will be able to relate to. It provides a clear framework of consistent activities, removing any lack of transparency. This activity can be seamlessly embedded into organisational functioning, creating a process where candidates understand what is expected from them and managers are clear how to support the development of effective behaviours such as leadership, decision-making and problem-solving.

Additional support

We can provide training workshops on:

  • Introduction to the Career Progression Gateway System – a half day workshop for HR/ L&D professionals and managers
  • Interview skills for managers – a one day workshop on the basics; advanced interview and probing skills and applying Values-based Assessment results.
  • Developing your team every day – a one day workshop to support managers to work with individuals and groups to improve skills and behaviours using methods which can be embedded into daily Watch/ team functioning.

Key considerations for Career Progression Gateways

  • The activities are underpinned by up-to-date criteria. We will adapt the criteria used to reflect the frameworks which matter to the FRS, including leadership qualities, values, competencies professional frameworks and standards (where sufficient information is available).
  • The criteria are supported by practical behavioural indicators for use by the assessment team.
  • Assessment tasks have high face validity.
  • Recommendations complement existing development activity.
  • Criteria frameworks are developed in conjunction with FRS personnel, via job analysis interviews.
  • The results from CPG assessments are easy to interpret with all data integrated into single meaningful scores.
  • CPGs are accompanied by sufficient additional information to help managers and L&D professionals embed the concept into the organisation, gaining support and acceptance by candidates and other personnel.

Find more information about the system here, and read our case study: hereLancashire FRS MM online assessment, .