How to use a capability framework to upscale your career

About the author

Heather is a key member of our assessor team. PhD, BSc, PG, RSA, CAM  

Over the past two years, Dr Heather Yaxley has answered questions about careers in public relations here are PR Academy’s PR Place Insights. In this first of a new series of monthly posts, she looks at how to upscale your career by using a Global Capability Framework developed for the public relations and communication management profession.

Advice on career development typically draws on the experiences of those currently in senior management roles, while predictions of how careers will develop tend to be based on job related changes we can see today. As neither the past nor the present is likely to be an accurate guide to the future, a new approach is needed.

The Global Capability Framework (GCF) was informed by research led by Professor Anne Gregory and Dr Johanna Fawkes to offer “forward-looking, fluid and culturally-sensitive pathways to development”. It provides a useful focus for career upscaling for individuals and teams. 

There are three sets of capabilities within the framework: communication, organisational and professional.

For each of these, we can apply three stages of career reflective thinking to look at accomplishments, activities and ambitions. This means reviewing your career experience to date, examining your current experiences and considering your intended career progression. 


The idea of capabilities is that they relate to achieving potential. Within the GCF, the professional capability that best enables realisation of this ambition is:

  • To develop self and others, including continuing professional learning.

Focusing on this capability is an obvious way to upscale your career. The GCF provides three recommendations (sub-capabilities):

  1. To take responsibility for your own continuous professional development (CPD), through a range of activities including training and education.
  2. To participate in industry events, represent the industry in public, and educate others on the role and value of public relations to employers and clients.
  3. To offer professional guidance which involves, motivates and contributes to personal and team development.

Investing in sustainable learning and development (L&D) opens up career opportunities and shows a commitment to increasing your value in the workplace. It demonstrates that you are curious and have an open mind in welcoming change.

Within organisations, the capability to develop yourself and others is enhanced by the creation of a learning culture. Here, coaching, feedback, teamwork and other collaborative approaches build an open environment where learning is natural and sustainable. 

Learning is an active process that works best when encouraged and nurtured as a shared experience. Belonging to a learning community offers a space where you can reflect on your career accomplishments, activities and ambitions. This occurs frequently when professionals studying for qualifications with PR Academy get together in face-to-face workshops or within online learning environment. 

Read my #FuturePRoof chapter on Investing in sustainable professional development to discover more about creating a learning culture, the six elements of a learning and development (L&D) strategy, and evidencing the return on investment in CPD.   

The capability to be an effective learner and facilitator of others’ professional development is essential to attainment of the other capabilities within the GSK. As such it can be considered to be a meta-capability from a career upscaling perspective. 

The four professional capabilities also have value for sustainable career development. They reinforce the professional credentials of public relations and communications management as an occupation. They are recognised as transferrable should you wish to upscale your career in other areas.

Career upscaling, Dr Heather Yaxley