The Direct Entry (DE) selection process has been completed, with VCA’s Career Progression Gateway (CPG) being used to identify candidates most suitable for the final interview stage.

The CPG has been used to identify leadership potential, strengths and development needs for internal FRS candidates (Crew to Strategic Manager) since 2019 and is gaining increasing traction as an affordable, efficient and effective alternative to internally designed systems for promotion. Particularly as CPG results for the DE project have shown to correlate well with candidate interview performance, with strong performers at the CPG doing well at interview, and weaker performers at the CPG also scoring less well on interview.

Here’s why the CPG is a pragmatic choice for managing both Direct Entry and internal promotions:

  • The CPG has been developed specifically for the FRS. It wasn’t adapted from another industry, it was designed from the ground up based on FRS experience, in collaboration with different FRS’s to assess FRS criteria.
  • The CPG meets the highest standards of fairness and consistency, with regular reliability studies conducted on data from across our FRS clients, and independently evaluated by Occupational Psychologists with year’s of expertise in behavioural assessments for the FRS.
  • The CPG provides candidates with the opportunity to provide a ‘snapshot’ of their LQ behaviours through exercises set in a compressed timeframe and parallel, fictitious context. 

  • Exercises are developed drawing on the insights and experience of subject matter experts (green and grey book) to ensure scenarios reflect realistic elements of the role. This is useful for internal candidates who can prepare (with the guidance of the e-learning course) for an exercise which reflects key elements of the role they aspire to, and for external candidates to get a ‘taster’ of the sort of tasks or problems they might expect to encounter as a Station Manager.
  • Relevant to internal and external candidates, the CPG exercises are subject to adverse impact monitoring and are fully adaptable for reasonable adjustment.
  • The CPG exercises are just one part of a full support package, which includes pre-assessment e-learning and post assessment feedback reports, in recognition of the priority for on-going candidate development and wellbeing.
  • There are two versions of the CPG and each promotional level. The CPG ‘LITE is used for Direct Entry, with the ‘LITE’ element referring to the length and detail of the feedback report. The exercises, tasks, criteria and scoring are the same for the full CPG and CPG LITE. Whereas the CPG LITE assessment screens provide pre-written statements nts for assessors to select, (based on the hundreds of ‘full’ CPG assessments conducted), the ‘full’ CPG requires assessors to write personalised evidence statements in support of each score allocated. This is more appropriate to support the development of internal candidates at Station Manager and above.
  • The benefit of using the CPG for DE is the availability of comparison data from hundreds of previously completed assessments. We can see how DE candidates score compared to internal candidates and review trends performance.
  • The CPG was originally designed with the goal of addressing all the questions, concerns and flaws of previous ADC/ promotion processes. Delete- Having spent fifteen years supporting FRS’s to deliver the National ADC Toolkit, and subsequently develop their own promotion methods, VCA are very aware of what works and doesn’t work from both the perspective of candidates and internal teams. Key issues with previous approaches were consistently focused on resource and labour intensiveness, which was simple to tackle through an on-line, externally managed option.


There are currently four Fire & Rescue Services who regularly and consistently use the CPG to assess internal candidates for promotion at a range of levels (green, grey book and on-call). Two of these recently recruited for DE candidates. A further three FRS’s use the CPG on an ad hoc basis.

With more FRS’s considering adopting Direct Entry within their organization, it will be an advantage to be using the CPG to demonstrate that both internal candidates and those applying via Direct Entry will be assessed and selected according to the same methods and criteria. Existing FRS staff will know that Direct Entry Station Managers have faced the same rigorous behavioural assessment as internal candidates, improving perceptions of fairness and equal opportunity between internal and external candidates. As such, we hope that more FRS’s will recognise the value of adopting the CPG for identifying leadership potential from talent pools both within and outside of the FRS.