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Skills screening for Jobcentre Plus customers - The use of diagnostics tools: A literature review

Two separate, but inter-related, literature reviews were undertaken for the Department for Work and Pensions. They focused on skills appraisals that measure individual skills levels, together with screening tools to help recognise influences on employability. The reviews highlighted items with documented evidence-bases, so that they could inform policy development and practice in these areas.

The aims of the study were to identify and review the research and evidence on two separate, but related, areas:

  • skills appraisals to help identify and measure individual skills levels (including those skills needed by employers)
  • screening methodologies that help recognise influences on employability (including individual lack of skills)

The methodology for the literature review was based on an approach developed by the Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre at the University of London (EPPI-Centre, 2002). Using our experience and knowledge of this process, this methodology was adapted to allow for researcher judgement, together with the identification of evidence from other sources that would not necessarily be found using a database or website search. This method provided a robust, transparent and comprehensive review of the literature and also provided a detailed account of relevant studies and findings.

The literature review on skills appraisals revealed a recent proliferation of instruments, but that there had been limited practice in the assessment of adult skills for employability. No one suitable ‘off-the-shelf’ tool could be identified. An extensive literature emerged from the review on tools and methodologies for identifying clients requiring extensive support. Three broad approaches to the identification of customer need were identified: complete adviser discretion; the application of rules binding adviser discretion; and the use of diagnostic tools to aid adviser discretion.


Bimrose, J., Barnes, S-A., Brown, A., Hasluck, C. & Behle, H. (2007). Skills Diagnostics and Screening Tools: A Literature Review (Research report no. 459). Leeds: Department for Work and Pensions/Corporate Document Services. ISBN 978 1 84712 276 6.

Project duration: 2007

IER project team:

Jenny Bimrose

Sally-Anne Barnes

Alan Brown

Maria de Hoyos

Heike Behle

Chris Hasluck

Project contributor:

Rachel Mulvey, University of East London


Department for Work and Pensions