UNESCO launches new Competency Framework

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UNESCO Headquarters in Paris
© UNESCO/Michel Ravassard

In April 2015 UNESCO launched a house-wide project with the participation of staff both at headquarters and in the field, to elaborate a new comprehensive competency framework for the Organization. This new framework seeks to clearly articulate the expected behavioral standards required of UNESCO staff and to provide renewed clarity on the core values that should permeate those behavioral standards. By incorporating both values and competencies in one single framework, a ‘common language’ will be adopted that will facilitate dialogue and link most of our Human Resources processes.

The competency framework consolidates into one tool the values and competencies considered essential by staff for UNESCO’s success. It provides a set of standards by which these can be evaluated. It provides an inventory of expected behaviors, skills and knowledge that if adhered to should lead to excellence. Each competency is composed of a set of related knowledge, skills and abilities that reinforce one another and when combined result in essential behavior expected of staff in UNESCO.

Central to the framework will be the four UNESCO core values (integrity, professionalism, respect for diversity and commitment to the Organization) that are the shared principles and beliefs that unite all staff and should guide all personnel in their actions, regardless of their grade, function or location. Core competencies will apply to all staff. The managerial competencies will apply to staff at P-4 level and above. The values permeate the core and managerial competencies that complete the framework.

UNESCO Staff Associations are closely associated on the elaboration of this Framework, and the consultation process is underway. Once the framework is rolled-out, UNESCO will be better aligned with the other organizations of the UN system. A plan of action is being developed for the roll-out of the competency framework into processes such as recruitment, learning, job descriptions, and will include competency training for staff and ongoing coaching to help build an understanding of, and ability to use competencies in their daily work.