New CILIP Professional Knowledge and Skills Base

Published on 17 May 2021, by Dominic Gilroy

Workforce, PKSB, CPD

In partnership with CILIP, Health Education England are delighted to make the revised Professional Knowledge and Skills Base (PKSB) and Healthcare Sector Guidance notes available to NHS Knowledge and Library Specialists in England.

The PKSB provides an excellent framework for individuals to map their existing knowledge and skills against the requirements of their current or future roles, identify gaps, and prioritise professional development.  For service managers and organisations, the tool is indispensable, helping to identify skills and knowledge gaps within a team and thereby inform training and development plans.

The revised PKSB has been extended to reflect the growing importance of skills in data handling and knowledge management, and to incorporate recommendations around digital skills identified by CILIP’s Technology Review.

Developed by a cross-sectoral working group, the PKSB itself is generic, applying to library and information professionals in any sector. It can easily be adapted to many different areas of the profession.  Health Education England, and knowledge and library specialists, have also worked with CILIP to produce Health Guidance Notes which provide practical examples of how the knowledge and skills identified in the PKSB may apply to roles in health context.

What has changed in the new PKSB?

Perhaps the most obvious change to the structure of the PKSB is two new sections about Data Management and Knowledge Management.  These reflect the growing importance of skills in these areas for information professionals as well as a growth in CILIP membership from colleagues specialising in these fields.

The relevance of Knowledge Management skills for health knowledge and library specialists is explicit in the priorities set by the Knowledge for Healthcare strategy. The need to manage information and share lessons learned have become high profile through the pandemic.

A glance at the Data Management section reveals skills such as AI and Algorithmic Literacy which includes “Critically evaluating automated search….processes.”  This is surely a familiar skill to any colleague who has helped users to understand how search engines work.

This and other additions also reflect the findings of CILIP’s Technology Review, the profession’s response to the Topol Review.  Emerging technologies are changing the delivery of knowledge services. New skills here include the intriguingly entitled “Computational Sense” which captures the unique skills of knowledge and library specialists in adapting and adopting new technologies and acting as a bridge between the needs of users and those developing technologies.

Other changes include:

  • Moving the Core Principles to the start of the document and explicitly referencing “Professional Development” among these principles
  • An emphasis on the importance of taking a leadership role at all levels
  • Expanding the section on literacies and learning including digital, media, and health literacy
  • Inclusion of new generic skills including Reflective Practice, Team Working, Consultancy and Consultancy Services.
  • Strengthening of the document to address bias and reflect our commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion.

Where will I find the PKSB and the Health Guidance?

The PKSB is made freely available to all NHS knowledge and library staff in England through a partnership agreement between Health Education England and CILIP.

The tool remains the intellectual property of CILIP and for this reason you are not permitted to share the resources.  You should receive an email from Health Education England including details of how to access the resource but if you have any problems accessing the documents you should contact:  [email protected]

Following the full launch of the PKSB by CILIP in the summer all CILIP members will have access to the PKSB and associated guidance, including an online interactive version of the PKSB.

 I am part way through professional registration. What does this mean for me?

To avoid any potential confusion, CILIP encourages colleagues who are currently undertaking Professional Registration (Certification, Chartership, Fellowship) to use the same version of the PKSB throughout the process.

Facet Publications Discount

The PKSB Healthcare Sector Guidance lists a number of Facet titles which may be of interest in developing skills against each section of the PKSB.  Between 1st May and 31st August Facet is offering a 15% discount against all print titles listed in the PKSB Healthcare Sector Guidance for any colleagues who may not be CILIP members

List of titles (OpenDocument Text)

List of titles (OpenDocument Spreadsheet)

When ordering these titles please use the discount code PKSBHEE15

A reminder that CILIP members already receive a 35% discount on Facet titles at all times.

Accessing the new PKSB

NHS knowledge and library colleagues should receive an email from Heath Education England via their Library Manager including details of how to access the resource but if you have any problems accessing the documents you should contact:  [email protected].


Dominic Gilroy
Deputy Head Knowledge and Library Services (North West, North East and Yorkshire)
Health Education England