Project Spotlight: Establishing a Competencies Framework for Infrastructure Policy Professionals

Researchers in UCL's Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy have recently published a report from their UKCRIC funded project - Establishing a Competencies Framework for Infrastructure Policy Professionals.
Project Spotlight: Establishing a Competencies Framework for Infrastructure Policy Professionals
UKCRIC Communications, Marketing and Events Manager (UCL)

Through intensive engagement activities with experienced professionals across public, private and third sector organisations and academic researchers, the resulting ‘Competencies Framework’ provides the potential to directly inform practice, and improve higher education and workplace training.

Taking a broad view of the infrastructure policy ‘sector’, encompassing traditional infrastructure areas (including water, waste, energy, green infrastructure, transport and digital) and professionals and organisations involved in decision-making across the public, private and third sector, the project sought to answer the question – ‘What specific competencies and types of expertise are required from infrastructure policy professionals as they address complex global challenges?

It combines a review of existing competency frameworks with interviews with experienced professionals.

The report identifies three competency focus areas for infrastructure policy professionals:

  • Core skills (Communication and translation, Reflexivity and strategic thinking),
  • Knowledge (Generalist and specialist, Contextual knowledge and awareness)
  • Behaviours (Working collaboratively across disciplines, Critical thinking and willingness to challenge the status quo, Initiative and emotional intelligence)
  • The importance of institutions creating an enabling environment in which to develop professional competency is also highlighted (Paradigm change, Workplace culture, Leadership and mentoring, Suitable metrics for skills, knowledges and behaviours).

Key takeaways infrastructure practitioners include:

  • Emphasising the development of behaviours within professional competency—which have been underrepresented/undervalued in competencies frameworks to date in comparison to knowledges and skills
  • Awareness of methods and tools to plan for an uncertain future—being able to understand and respond as best possible to short and long-term social and environmental changes
  • Recognising the complementary value of generalist and specialist backgrounds—appreciation of the need for diverse, cohesive and highly competent teams, as well as talented individuals
  • Evolving the recognition of professional accreditation as a license to operate—with a focus on understanding and developing professionals’ environmental and social licenses to operate

Download a full copy of the report.