The number of Career Progression Gateway (CPG) enquiries and demos we are delivering each week is really gathering pace.

Why is the CPG getting so much attention now?

Fundamentally it feels like there is a big shift in how services see their role in relation to promotions.

  • They want something independent, to finally put to bed complaints about bias or subjectivity,
  • They want exercises which identify core behavioural aptitudes which facilitate transformational leadership (instead of assessing procedural know-how, which is what most in-house designed exercises fall into the trap of).
  • They want to pass the process to experts who take all the headaches and admin burden out of it, without losing control of the decisions. They get proven results and detailed feedback without resource-heavy, hands-on involvement. From there, they can use the objective results to inform next steps and organisational requirements, whether that’s an interview, place in a holding pool or a placement on a development programme.

BUT- we do hear objections too

‘The CPG doesn’t assess the wealth of FRS experience our candidates have’

‘It doesn’t allow candidates to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of our specific processes, structures or departments’

Technical knowledge/ experience are most practically demonstrated during the development programme and maintenance activities, which are regularly evaluated in role. First stage access to the promotions process (typically an appraisal/ portfolio, application form, technical exams or operations simulations) also provide insights into vital technical knowledge and experience. Once their technical ability/ experience has been identified, the next stage of assessment then needs to identify the behavioural characteristics and values to determine the most effective candidates from a leadership perspective.

‘It does not allow candidates to highlight their own experience or competence to deliver the roles they are applying for’

Knowledge and understanding of FRS specific processes have traditionally been part of the promotion process, but this isn’t necessarily the best indicator of successful performance of leadership skills or moving the culture of the organisation forward. For instance, someone might know the role from a technical perspective inside out, and be very familiar with policies and processes, but not be particularly effective in a more senior management or leadership role.

‘IT literacy varies hugely and some candidates would be hindered considerably by their slow typing speeds’

Candidates are welcome to have printed copies of the exercises to read if preferred and to submit their answers by hand. These are then typed up internally, scanned and sent across to us for marking, accommodating all candidates.

Developmental Feedback Sessions

FRS’s are also getting huge value from the developmental feedback sessions. Yes, we cover CPG performance, but that only scratches the surface. From behaviour patterns to strengths, motivations to psychological blocks, these 45 minute sessions have proved invaluable for candidates to really see their full potential, what they can contribute, their role within the team, and what their career path could look like given the right steer and developmental opportunities.

In case you need a reminder about what we do, here is a quick summary… (if you know all this already, skip to the ‘2024 plans’ section as there is exciting new pricing-related news which you won’t want to miss!)

  • Promotions in a nutshell… the CPG is an online promotions process, uniquely designed for the Fire & Rescue Service, using role simulation exercises set in a fictious FRS context, measuring the NFCC Leadership framework and core behavioural markers. Want to work out which of your applicants are best suited to move up to the next level, using a fair, reliable, robust, valid, cost-effective, easy-to use, fully managed assessment process? That’s exactly what we do (and it works for green, grey book, control, direct entry and on-call staff too).
  • The CPG is managed on-line… which means the exercises (a Case Study and Video Roleplay) are completed via our bespoke internet-based platform and MS Teams. Exercises are available from Crew to Strategic Managers, with up to four sets per level, accommodating repeat candidates with ease. The candidates can complete the CPG exercises at an FRS venue or remotely i.e. the candidates’ Station or home, with an average time commitment of two hours (depending on level).
  • Huge reduction in resources… Timetabling, booking slots, assessing, results and feedback reports are all streamlined via our CPG platform, so no need for administrators to manage timetabling, print documents, create feedback reports or results tables- it’s all handled for you. We even provide an e-course for candidates to complete before their assessment to make sure all questions are answered and they can prepare for this important event in the right way. Plus we can give you briefing materials in case you’d like to run an in-house session for transparency and to support your candidates wellbeing and expectations.
  • Expert assessors and professional feedback… Occupational Psychologists handle all the marking and roleplaying, so all you need to do is be on hand to support candidates on the day (we provide all process guidance and step by step guides) and send their feedback reports on once you have received them (usually within 5 working days of the final assessment). Candidates can even book their feedback session slots themselves, which are done via MS teams with one of their psychologist assessors within a couple of weeks of the CPG. Candidate feedback is consistently positive, and grievances are reduced. Its efficient, streamlined, and there are even different options to fit with different service budgets.

2024 Career Progression Gateway Plans

We’re big on continuous improvement. So, what will we deliver in 2024? (Some of these are already in the process of being rolled out)

  • Free pre-CPG briefing materials as an additional resource for clients who use the e-course. These can be delivered internally by in-house staff, or VCA can facilitate a MS Teams session for candidates in a daytime or evening slot, for a small additional cost, which will be recorded and available for candidates who can’t attend.
  • Auto-reader feature to the CPG for use by all candidates; a request will no longer be required (this is already on the e-learning course for candidate assessment preparation).
  • Updates to CPG platform and user interface, additional functionality added based on candidate feedback.
  • Feedback calls all available via video and guidance for candidates to fill out to help them note key learning points.
  • Evaluation report provided after each project to provide data on candidate feedback, score comparisons across different years and between different services.

  • High potential/ aspiring leaders notification- we’ll highlight your high performers from each CPG process.

*NEW- ‘Open CPG’ Calendar *

From 2024, subject to interest, we plan to launch an Open CPG Calendar – For Crew, Watch and Station Manager CPG assessments we will have set dates, periodically throughout the year, that will be open to all FRSs to book their candidates on for fully managed, remote CPG assessments. Providing an Open CPG, allows us to manage higher volume, streamlining our internal resources, sharing project management costs, passing this saving on to you, allowing us to offer the CPG at an even more competitive, lower price. In addition to cost savings, the calendar removes the burden of planning internal resources, each FRS just simply provides their shortlisted candidates, and we will do the rest. VCA will manage candidate liaison and briefing, timetabling, booking slots, administration and invigilation of the CPG, assessment, and finally delivering the results and feedback reports.

If this is something you would be interested in participating in, click this box to register your interest, and you can also have input into the schedule of the calendars so we can create the best fit for you.