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Workforce development

The effectiveness of any organisation is dependent on its staff. A motivated and skilled workforce will always do a better job than an unmotivated and unskilled one. Workforce development tools can provide the means to assess the skills staff possess, identify opportunities for improvement and provide the structure for staff management and continued professional development.

National Occupational Standards (NOS) are widely used to create job descriptions, role profiles and to inform both the recruitment and supervision processes. NOS describe individual units of competencies that can be combined to create an accurate description of a job.


Adfam workforce development resource

Role profiles for family practitioner supporting families affected by substance use (pdf)

This role profile was developed after wide consultation with the sector. It contains the National Occupational Standards (NOS) which describe what every practitioner supporting families affected by substance use should be competent in. The NOS are split into a ‘core’ section, which covers the generic competencies all practitioners should have such as effective communication and the observing of health and safety guidelines, and an ‘additional’ section which covers working with families.

There is an additional section of competencies in working with families which describe what drug and alcohol workers should be competent in for their work with families.

Role profile briefing (pdf)

This briefing explains further how role profiles, including the Adfam/FDAP one above, can be used.

Summary review of drug and alcohol workforce development literature (pdf)

This document provides a summary of a literature review Adfam carried out surveying the relevant resources that exist in regards to supporting families affected by drugs and alcohol. It explores the wide variety of skills and backgrounds that exist within the drug and alcohol workforce and identifies some key points of need for upping the skills level of the workforce as a whole.

Family support in the drug and alcohol sector – workforce survey (pdf)

In order to get further information on the nature and the needs of the workforce Adfam carried out a survey which was answered by 55 practitioners from the sector. This document contains the results of the survey and covers the types of services, what they provide, the numbers and employment status of employees and more.

Volunteering toolkit (pdf)

Adfam developed a toolkit 'Real voices in volunteering' for use by any volunteer, prospective volunteer, volunteer-manager or prospective volunteer-manager. It represents the first time that both the generic volunteering material and the background information on drugs, alcohol and families has been brought together into one place, illustrated by the real life experiences of recovering substance users, family members and volunteer managers. Throughout the creation of the toolkit these groups were consulted and their knowledge and expertise used to help make something practical and resonant for the sector.

The appendices of the toolkit are also available for separate download:


Other workforce development resources

The Skills Consortium

The Skills Consortium was a sector-led, wide ranging partnership of organisations in the drug and alcohol sector which worked until 2015 to equip practitioners (including managers) with the skills they needed to promote recovery for service users, their families and communities.

Skills Consortium briefing: workforce development tools (pdf)

This briefing offers an overview of workforce development tools which can be used by drug and alcohol practitioners and service-managers to ensure the competence of their practice and the overall effectiveness of the treatment services and systems they work within.

Developing standards of practice in the drugs and alcohol workforce – FDAP (pdf)

This practical guide from FDAP explains how NOS and competencies can be used by practitioners, including managers, and why they are important. It covers the use of role profiles, the origins of DANOS (Drug and Alcohol NOS) and gives a brief history of the evolution of workforce development in the drug and alcohol sector.

NOS Directory

The NOS directory is a fully searchable record of all NOS that are currently in existence. Users can search by keyword and topic.

What are National Occupational Standards?

This webpage provides a useful FAQ covering NOS. It asks what they are, how they are developed and how they are used in practice. This is an excellent place to start for anyone looking for some information on NOS and how they can use in their work.

Staff development toolkit for drug and alcohol services – National Treatment Agency (NTA)

The NTA released this guide in 2006 which offers an overview of workforce development tools and techniques that can be used in staff development. It covers everything a manager needs – the supervision process, NOS, contracts and more.