Career Progression Gateway

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Career Progression Gateway2020-10-27T15:06:44+00:00

The ‘Career Progression Gateway’ (CPG) is an online assessment to evaluate performance. This system is straight-forward, candidate-friendly and intuitive, removing much of the stress associated with assessment events for all involved. The CPG ‘brings to life’ assessment activity through interactive and relevant tasks to which both candidates and organisations will be able to relate.

An effective online approach to assessing candidates for recruitment, selection, development and promotion.

Selecting the best talent is the foundation of your organisational effectiveness. supporting your teams of the right managers and future leaders. Properly assessing and selecting for your team, manager and leadership positions is critical to making the right decisions.

Reduced staffing and tighter budgets over the past decade have resulted in many organisations having to find less intensive methods of assessing candidates, which can vary in consistency, quality, and fairness. At times, methods used can lack depth or validity, to reliably inform the appointment of the best talent.

Our Career Progression Gateway is an exciting new way to deliver important staff assessments in a robust, consistent and more efficient way. It is easy for HR staff to set up and deliver and for candidates to understand and complete. Results have proved it to be a great solution to the challenge of selecting the best talent in the most cost effective, convenient way.

The CPG system is currently being used by five UK Fire & Rescue Services to select the Crew Managers, Watch Managers and Station Managers of the future. Read our case study here to learn more about the CPG in practice and then contact us to see how it can help you.

Based a on recent project, it was calculated by the client that using the CPG saved them £34,800 from their previous process (an average of £600 per candidate).

Key Benefits of the CPG

  • Reduces the cost and resources required to deliver the process by out-sourcing all admin, roleplaying and assessment
  • Improved fairness and consistency of scoring by using objective and highly-qualified assessors
  • User-friendly and easy for candidates to access and complete tasks via laptop and phone
  • Convenient and quick to deliver, less time away from normal operations for candidates (usually 2 hours max assessment time)
  • No printing required
  • Assessment tools are valid, with consistency in results across projects and reliability in candidate performance across testing occasions
  • All activities will meet British Psychological Society best practice guidelines for assessment and development
  • The CPGs have been designed by a team of Occupational Psychologists

We have Exercises from Supervisory to Senior Manager Level.



Timetabling can be handled via an online appointment booking service which gives candidates flexibility to choose a ‘slot’ from allocated times and dates which reduces internal administration.

Candidates can either attend their assessment at a central venue or access and complete the exercises on a computer from home.

All assessment activities will be managed through an individual ‘gateway’ screen. Candidates will access this gateway via personal login details, which we will supply. An in-house administrator can oversee the exercise (guidance will be provided), or candidates can simply read and follow the instructions and proceed independently.


We currently have exercises suitable for four levels of management progression. At each level, we use two exercises; a Case Study and a telephone Role-play.


This timed exercise (65-75 minutes depending on level) provides the candidate with several pieces of information and clear guidelines on their tasks. Depending on the level, these may include a letter or article, a proposal, project recommendation, analysis, strategy or change initiative.

Candidates read the information provided and type their responses into free text boxes during the exercise which are recorded for assessors to review and score online on completion. The exercise time is managed via an in-built timer which will log the candidate out when the time is complete.


Candidates access and read exercise information by logging into their CPG personal gateway screen and selecting the roleplay assessment.

Candidates are given a set time (managed via an in-built exercise timer) to read the scenario information before an assessor telephones them and the roleplay commences.

The roleplay is timed from when the candidate answers the phone.

During the call the assessor will present lines from their script and take notes of the interaction for use in later online marking.


Candidates can be invited to complete a short values assessment.

The VQ is based on brief scenarios which the candidate must evaluate using a scale from strongly agree to strongly disagree.

The results of this generate candidate specific questions which can be used in later interview (telephone or face-to-face) to further explore the candidate’s alignment with organisational values.

The results of the VQ are not included as part of the final results reporting but are added into the feedback report and can also be used for developmental purposes.

Exercise Validity

There is a wealth of evidence for the validity of an assessment centre that is well-designed and professionally run. The use of two exercises and highly experienced Occupational Psychologist assessors promote fairness, and the ‘remote’ method of assessment decreases any potential for bias. Researchers note that there is “stronger predictive validity emerging when psychologists assess candidates”.

Enhanced assessment centre validity can be found where exercises are designed specifically for “the organisation and job in question”. For instance, the Fire & Rescue Service specific CPG exercises were not only designed specifically for the Fire & Rescue Service, but also to match the requirements at each role level, including in-band. These CPG exercises have a foundation of relevant, job critical criteria i.e. the FRS Leadership Quality Framework which has been thoroughly researched on an FRS population.

The rigorous implementation of the CPG assessments is also a key factor to its reliability, with the IT system and administrative processes drawing on VCA’s twenty years’ experience of running assessment centres, including with over thirty Fire & Rescue Services.

After a year of running the CPG with the FRS, we are currently conducting analysis on the existing data set and will continue to review the situation in line with BPS assessment centre best practice guidelines for validation of exercises. We are working with an independent Occupation Psychologist, who has conducted numerous independent validity studies for the Fire & Rescue Service, to further evaluate the tools and results.

Client feedback to date has confirmed that the exercises have good face validity, that results are aligned with other test reporting and reliably identify suitable candidates for progression.

“A fairer, more transparent process for the candidates.”

Donna Trowsdale, Development Officer, Shropshire Fire & Rescue Service

Bespoke Tools

You may have existing assessment tools developed in-house which you would prefer to use. We can import your assessment content onto our platform to allow your candidates to use your materials, supported by our ‘remote assessment’ system. This covers written exercises and one to one role-plays.

The candidate will complete exercises remotely, timed and managed by our software. Your assessors can continue to mark candidate responses using your existing methods.

Another option is that we can adapt our existing exercises to be more specific to your organisation. Contact us to discuss the possibilities here.


Assessment and scoring are done remotely, either by experienced VCA occupational psychologist assessors or by your assessors who can be trained on our system if you are using your bespoke exercise materials.

Our assessors can objectively assess and score your candidates, removing the burden on internal staff who may need to be trained and diverted from normal duties to complete time-consuming assessments.

Our assessors assess the candidate’s performance using a leadership based behavioural framework* with scores from 0 (no evidence) to 3 (significant evidence) for each behavioural area, which generates a percentage score for overall assessment centre performance and per behavioural criterion, for ease of interpretation. Our assessors provide evidence to support each evaluation made, which is reflected in an automatically generated feedback report. Where appropriate, assessors also provide developmental guidance, adding value to the feedback report.

*The marking criteria can be adapted to reflect your own organisational competencies where possible.

All results reports are generated automatically, providing organisations with a spreadsheet of scores within a short-time frame once all assessments have been completed.

On completion, the final feedback report on candidate performance can be accessed via the CPG portal by Learning & Development/ HR personnel.

Briefing Workshop

Clients have found it highly beneficial to hold an interactive briefing before the assessments to ensure that candidates are fully prepared, know what to expect and what they need to do to maximise their performance.

Through our two-hour facilitated briefing session your candidates will be able to ask questions, see example exercises, and become more familiar with the assessment methods, criteria and results reporting mechanisms. This significantly reduced uncertainty and errors on the day, and improves candidate buy-in and acceptance of the process.

This briefing workshop is designed to be facilitated by an in-house trainer. All trainer support materials, slides and practice exercises are supplied.

Introduction – The Career Progression Gateway (CPG), benefits and key features, the Leadership Qualities in practice

The Exercises Practical – How does the online system work? Sample exercises and short practice, feedback and group discussion

Performance – Common mistakes and useful approaches, FAQ/ Q&A

Self-study – The Career Progression Gateway Practical Handbook – a 43 page e-book full of support material to ensure candidates perform to their fullest potential.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do the exercises measure the Leadership Qualities?2020-10-16T10:01:17+00:00

Yes, all of the exercises measure the NFCC LQs on a 0-3 scale, which makes it easier to convert these to percentage scores (which are a bit more straightforward to interpret).

What’s the break-down of the costings?2020-10-16T10:17:03+00:00

The charge is per exercise per candidate.

If we take Crew to Station level assessments, each exercise costs £325 + VAT (£650 for both exercises per candidate). This is for a best practice, professionally designed and validated assessments, using qualified external assessors and a bespoke IT platform.

The cost covers:
• Assessment/ marking (takes up to 2 hours per exercise per candidate)
• Role-player (performed by the assessor)
• Exercise use
• Feedback report
• Results reporting
• Use of the platform

Are there any extra costs?2020-10-16T10:10:37+00:00

Yes. There is a project management fee of 10% added to each project. This covers the cost of timetabling, system amendments for candidates with additional requirements, IT checks, GDPR etc.

We can also handle the telephone feedback sessions after the assessment process is finished, for an extra cost. Pre-assessment briefings are charged at a nominal amount per candidate when facilitated in-house, using materials we provide.

There are no expenses fees as part of the CPG assessment as it is performed remotely.

Can we use our own assessors?2020-10-16T10:11:07+00:00

Yes. They would need to be trained on using the system and our assessment materials first but could then manage the process independently. We would supply log in details to the system and provide final results once the assessments are all complete.

Will prices remain the same?2020-10-16T10:11:26+00:00

We offer a 3 year fixed price contract, which enables clients to forward plan their budget, and can estimate cost savings over three years to enable you to securely reinvest budget savings, without having to hold back contingency to accommodate future price raises.

Can we see how it all works?2020-10-16T10:12:35+00:00

Yes, you can have a system ‘tour’ to see how all the pieces come together in practice. Simply drop us an email and we can send to full details.

Want to see the Career Progression Gateway for yourself?

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