The answer to this question isn’t simple as there is so much variation in Fire & Rescue Services’ practice when it comes to assessing potential for promotion. A combination of approaches is most common, including some of the following: operational assessment, job simulation exercises (written, roleplay, presentation, group), psychometric testing, interview.
Naturally, using in-house resources can appear cost-effective but, in reality, is a false economy. When the time spent on developing exercises, conducting assessments, administration, venue, actors, etc are all factored in, the margin between internal assessments and outsourced support can be substantially reduced.
Here is a side-by-side cost comparison, per candidate, supplied by one of our clients for their previous assessment process, compared to their more recent use of VCA’s Career Progression Gateway system.
Assessment and Development Centre (ADC) – v- Career Progression Gateway
Costings do not include any pre or post activities associated with either assessment route.
ADC – based on delivering a Middle Manager ADC for 9 candidates
Cost per candidate £1,478.89
|External assessors (x7)||£6,495.00|
|Internal assessor x 16 hours (£17.53 per hour)||£280.481|
|QA Centre Manager x 16 hours (£14.09 per hour)||£225.44|
|Centre Administrators x 2 (11.91 per hour) x 16 hours||£381.122|
An additional cost to this calculation would be the internal feedback sessions that the Centre Manager would have with each candidate
Career Progression Gateway for 9 Watch to Station Manager assessments
Cost per candidate £805.00
*Feedback reports are included in the cost of exercise use.
Using the CPG assessment process in comparison to the traditional ADC process, equates to a saving of approximately £6,065.07 in total, with a saving of £673 per candidate.
The benefits of outsourced assessments depend on the support you choose. For example, psychometric testing can be streamlined and easy to administer internally but feedback can be generic, tests can lack face validity (i.e. candidates don’t see the relevance), use of the tools is costly and integrating the results with your other measures can be complex. With regard to using external assessors, this can seem expensive, but their value lies in the reduced time it takes to complete the assessments and the quality of reporting, which supports more useful feedback and guidance sessions. This has been shown to be a significant contributor to positive candidate experience, and assessment feedback can be easily incorporated into the new (or existing) role to promote future development.
The value of bespoke FRS assessment exercises or generic off-the-shelf management exercises lies with the largely hidden but critically important design factors. FRS’s almost never have the time or resources to prove the reliability and validity of their tools. And since the reliability and validity of an exercise will essentially tell you whether it works or not, the attraction, and credibility, of externally developed exercises is hard to deny.
VCA submit their CPG assessments to third party specialists to ensure that reliability and validity standards are met. Our design principles not only rely on a wealth of experience of creating exercises tailored exclusively to the FRS over two decades, but also with strict adherence to BPS rules of best practice.
Most FRS’s have to work out and justify costings for whatever approach they choose, and the bottom line is often a significant influence on the future course of action. VCA’s affordably priced offering is a FRS specific, online portal – the Career Progression Gateway. This new system is a means of running out-sourced assessment processes which are streamlined, professional, high-quality and with costs comparable to labour intensive in-house methods.
The correct route for your organisation will come down to a number of factors, cost being just one of them. It may be useful to take a fresh look at use of internal sources for running promotional assessments, and whether this continues to be the best route for your HR/ L&D teams and your organisation. With the bespoke, online, validated, FRS- based assessments available via the Career Progression Gateway, you might have found a highly credible option to support your team, candidates and organisation’s best outcomes.
To book your 20 min ‘CPG virtual tour’ and have all your questions answered, complete our contact form (and find out more about how you can have two candidates assessed, including developmental feedback, for free).