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Public Health Skills and Knowledge Framework (PHSKF)


The Public Health Skills and Knowledge Framework (PHSKF) is the new name for the Public Health Skills and Career Framework (PHSCF). The full text of the original document is available from the website of  Skills for Health, where you will also find leaflets on how the framework can be used (by the wider workforce, practitioners, educators, employers, and commissioners).

In 2012-2013, the Public Health Skills and Career Framework was subjected to partial review, the results of which are accessible here. It was recommended that the revised Framework be called the Public Health Skills and Knowledge Framework (PHSKF) in recognition of the fact that the levels of the framework relate to different levels of skill and knowledge and not to the level (band or grade) that someone holds in their role. For example, someone working at a senior level (band or grade) may have relevatively low skills and knowledge in certain areas of public health.



The Public Health Skills and Knowledge Framework (PHSKF) describes the skills and knowledge needed by everybody in the public health workforce. It aims to ensure a common standard for everyone, regardless of work background. The framework helps individuals to identify the skills and knowledge they have, the skills and knowledge they need, the gaps in their skills and knowledge, and to plan a career development pathway.

The PHSKF describes knowledge and competence (sometimes called "knows how and shows how"), split across nine different career levels. It is relevant to you whether you have just embarked on a career in public health, are working in a role that may not be called “public health” but nevertheless has an impact on health, or are a leader of public health services.


The structure of the framework

Public health is divided into nine areas of work.

There are four CORE areas that anyone working in public health must know about and have certain competences within. These are:

  • Surveillance and assessment of the population's health and wellbeing
  • Assessing the evidence of effectiveness of interventions, programmes and services to improve population health and wellbeing
  • Policy and strategy development and implementation for population health and wellbeing
  • Leadership and collaborative working for population health and wellbeing

There are also five non-core or DEFINED areas representing the contexts within which individuals principally work. These are:

  • Health improvement
  • Health protection
  • Public health intelligence
  • Academic public health
  • Health and social care quality



Levels, competences and knowledge

The framework defines nine levels of competence and knowledge in each of the nine areas of public health (both core and defined). Those at level 1 will have little previous, knowledge, skills or experience in public health, while those at level nine will be setting strategic priorities and direction and providing leadership to improve population health and wellbeing. Basic definitions of the nine levels are given in the tables below.

For simplicity, on the PHORCaST website we have grouped the nine levels into three broader levels: Entry (levels 1-4), Intermediate (levels 5-7), Senior (levels 8-9). These broad groupings, however, will not be found in the Public Health Skills and Knowledge Framework.


Level Public Health Skills and Knowledge Framework
1 Has little previous knowledge, skills or experience in public health. May undertake specific public health activities under direction or may acknowledge the value of public health in a wider context.
2 Has gained basic public health knowledge through training and/or development. May undertake a range of defined public health activities under guidance or may use knowledge to influence public health in a wider context
3 May carry out a range of public health activities or small areas of work under supervision. May assist in training others and could have responsibility for resources used by others. May use public health knowledge to set priorities and make decisions in a wider context
4 Has responsibility for specific areas of public health work with guidance, which may have a breadth and/or depth of application


Level Public Health Skills and Knowledge Framework
5 Has autonomy in specified public health areas, continually develops own area of work and supports others to understand it. May contribute to a programme of work in multi-agency or multidisciplinary environment
6 Has autonomy and responsibility in coordinating complex public health work, reflecting wider and deeper expertise in own area of work. Able to develop, facilitate and contribute to programmes of work in multi-agency or multidisciplinary environment
7 Has autonomy and expertise in a number of areas of public health. Will lead on areas of work within a defined field


Level Public Health Skills and Knowledge Framework
8 Has a high level of expertise in a specific area of public health work or across a substantial breadth of public health service delivery and/or programmes. Is accountable for work across boundaries and agencies. Has leadership responsibility and autonomy to act. Sets strategic direction in own area of work
9 Sets strategic direction across organizations and/or areas of work. Provides multidisciplinary or multi-sectoral public health leadership that determines priorities. Works at executive level


PHSKF and related self-assessment tools

To help you self-assess against the Public Health Skills and Career Framework there are two tools:

  • The Public Health Competence Assessment Tool is particularly suited for those already working within the public health/health and wellbeing workforce.
  • A Self Assessment of Public Health Skills Tool, is being developed by the London Teaching Public Health Network, and will be particularly suitable for those working at entry levels in the public health and health and wellbeing workforce.

The PHSKF has been mapped against the Knowledge and Skills Framework.

A number of example roles from each Level of the PHSKF have been mapped to demonstrate how the PHSKF can be applied in real life. See the Indicative Public Health Profiles.

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