Using the Professional Knowledge and Skills base

Using the Professional Knowledge and Skills Base


The Professional Knowledge and Skills base (PKSB) has to be completed by all candidates no matter which CILIP qualification they are undertaking. At a recent registration event, I realised that this was an area which the majority of candidates were struggling with. I hope that this blog post will help to demystify the process of using the PKSB.


Professional Expertise and Generic Skills


Q: What is the PKSB?

The PKSB is divided into 16 areas, which covers the whole of the library and information profession. All of these areas are then sub divided into smaller, more focused areas, which for the purposes of this blog I will be calling subsections. So, for example, under the section Knowledge and Information Management, I will focus on the subsection of 2.2 and 3.2 as part of my PKSB.

Knowledge and information Management

Q: Do I have to fill it all in, as some of it is not relevant to my role?

No, you do not have to complete all of the PKSB.

For the purposes of a CILIP Qualification you only need to focus on 10 -12 subsections of the PKSB. I would suggest that it is useful to choose a couple of subsections from each section. Although I realise that if you are working in one particular area you may not be able to choose so many sections. Your PKSB is as individual as you, you can include areas which you are interested in, but are not necessarily part of your day job. I think a lot of the confusion around the PKSB comes from the fact that it is very individual so you can easily get confused if you look at other candidates.

Q: Why do I need to fill it in?

The PKSB is a useful tool to help you assess your level of competency within a given subsection. How you score yourself is up to you, you are not required to show a huge jump in your learning, for examples rating yourself 1 on your first PKSB and 3 on your second PKSB –and for a new area which you are planning to develop during the period it is fine to have an initial rating of 0.

Please be assured that the assessors are not going to turn up at your workplace and make you take a test to prove your new level of competency, so do not worry if after some reflection you don’t think that you have improved at all. You just need to be able to reflect on how this has gone.

Filling out the PKSB helps you to decide, very early on, which areas you want to concentrate on during the course of your qualification. It allows you to start thinking about the different types of evidence and reflections you can use in your submission.

Q: How many versions do I need to submit?

You need to include two versions of your PKSB, one is your initial version and the second is one reflecting on how things went as you have developed your knowledge and skills on the topic during the process.

Q: What does a first draft of a PKSB look like?

The above is an example of my first PKSB for my fellowship. I have chosen 10 subsections (not all shown here) which I want to focus on during my qualification. I have added my current and ideal score. I then added a column which addresses how I am going to improve my knowledge in this area.

When I am nearing completion of my portfolio and I need to fill in my second version I will fill in the “What actually happened” column in this I can reflect on how the learning went and add this here.

Self assessment ratings

Q: What happens if I did not undertake the training/development which I said I would do in the first version?

There can be many reasons as to why you were unable to complete a section, such as training cancelled, moved off a project or changed jobs. Please do not let this worry you, just add your reflections. Remember the assessors are interested in your reflections, so do not worry if it does not all go according to plan, very few things in life do.

Q: Is there a standardised format which I have to use?

There is not a standardised format, but in the course area of the VLE under the qualification which you have chosen to undertake, you will find links to Professional Knowledge and Skills Base. In here you will find “PKSB gap analysis” which you can then download and fill in the relevant sections and then delete the ones which you are not going to look at.

Q: Are there any documents which I can use to help me fill in the PKSB?

Let’s just think about how your workplace can help you to fill in the PKSB, you should be having regular appraisals which will list areas where you need to develop your skills and knowledge. Use this to help shape your PKSB, there is no need to undertake more work to complete your qualification, so let’s use what you already have to do as part of your day job.

Q: Do I need to include the Wider Organisation & Environment Context?

This section is an important part of the marking criteria of whichever qualification you are undertaking, so please remember to include it. It demonstrates your awareness of the wider library and information world and this can include visiting other libraries, job shadowing, reading professional journals and magazines and reflecting on what you have read.

Q: How can my mentor help me?

Your mentor is there to help support you through the process and they can help guide and offer you advice.

 Q: When should I complete the first version of the PKSB?

It is useful to complete your PKSB near the start of your qualification, as a mentor I always ask my mentees to complete their PKSB and send me a copy, after our first meeting. This way it helps to act as a good way of getting started and helping to feel that you are on your way. It can be used as a signpost to help you focus your development and break the workload down into more manageable pieces.

I personally see the PKSB as my route planner, as it has allowed me to narrow down the areas which I want to develop. This should mean that I can be more focused on how I am going to develop my knowledge, reflect on what I have done and then submit.

I hope that you have found this post interesting and informative; if you have any questions, please get in touch.

Nicola Healey West Country CSO.



2 thoughts on “Using the Professional Knowledge and Skills base

  1. Pingback: Using the Professional Knowledge and Skills base | catherine northeast

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