Policy Development Officer

Policy development officers within local council social services departments research, plan and develop services. They may specialise in adult services or children's and family services. They also advise elected council members and senior management on their options relating to policy, planning and development.

Work Environment
Most of the time policy development officers are based in council offices.

Daily Activities
The content of the job varies according to the work area but broadly speaking, duties could include:

  • working with other agencies and departments to scope out strategic developments and new services;
  • planning and developing new services, including negotiating and establishing contracts with outside agencies that provide services;
  • exploring opportunities for external funding;
  • keeping up-to-date with developments and changes in legislation, regulations, national standards and relevant research;
  • producing and updating policy statements in response to changes in legislation and good practice;
  • briefing senior management, council members, local social services managers and practitioners on the implications of forthcoming changes and developments;
  • developing innovative solutions to issues that arise;
  • developing and managing the implementation of major strategic projects;
  • leading on projects reviewing the efficiency and effectiveness of services, recommending changes and making sure they are carried out;
  • developing good working relationships with all kinds of people - including the public, voluntary and independent sectors and working with them to decide together what services are needed and then to commission them;
  • producing practice guidance for staff;
  • making sure that performance is monitored, data collected and analysed, then writing reports on it;
  • managing the budget.

Skills & Interests
Policy development officers in social services need to be:

  • good organisers;
  • excellent project managers;
  • good decision-makers;
  • good team players;
  • good communicators, both verbally and in writing;
  • good negotiators, with the ability to influence people;
  • able to lead and manage change;
  • able to prioritise work.

Entry Requirements
You are likely to need several years experience in a senior role in social services. You will probably need a degree or equivalent in social work or related area. You may also be required to have some experience of policy research and development.  The professional qualifying training for social workers is a degree in social work approved by the General Social Care Council (GSCC).

The degree is a three-year programme and entrance is via approved universities, who determine their own conditions for entry.  The previous professional qualification, the Diploma in Social Work (DipSW), is still recognised as a valid social work qualification.

Those wishing to pursue a degree in social work will need GCSEs (or equivalent) in English and Mathematics at grade C or above. Although universities will set their own conditions of entrance, possible useful A-level (or equivalent) subjects would be law, sociology or psychology. Vocational GCSEs and A-level subjects may also be useful.

Further Information & Services
Health & Care Professions Council www.hpc-uk.org
Care Council for Wales www.ccwales.org.uk

You may find further information about this area of work through Careers Wales (www.careerswales.com/) or in your local library, careers office or school careers library.

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