Section one - what does a skilled practitioner bring to this?

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A skilled practitioner will be able to undertake research themselves, using appropriate methods. They will have the ability to gather and analyse information, select appropriate assessment methods, and develop relationships and partnerships with others. However they will also be able to support and work alongside communities and groups, recognising the capacity of communities to conduct their own needs assessment. And they will have the ability to move needs assessment into action, recognising that problem solving and influence are an important component of any needs assessment exercise. From this, the skilled practitioner will recognise that needs assessment, even when carried out by communities themselves, is not an end in itself. It must lead to change. It is therefore an integral part of good community engagement.

This approach is recognised in a range of competency frameworks which set out what a skilled practitioner should be able to do. Some of the key competences for community needs assessment are as follows:

(From CLD Competences)

  • Conduct a community assessment, considering the political, economic and social context of the community
  • Identify needs, assets and opportunities
  • Involve other stakeholders in identifying needs and agreeing priorities

(From CD National Occupational Standards)

  • Get to know a community - making contact and initiating relationships in a community to find out about its issues and concerns
  • Facilitate community research and consultations
  • Analyse and disseminate findings from community research

(From Better Community Engagement Curriculum Framework)

  • Work with communities to identify and define the issues that should be addressed and select appropriate methods of action
  • Employ, and support the use of, a variety of methods of data collection and analysis that meet commitments to be inclusive and respect diversity

What we need to be able to do


There are a range of approaches which support a participatory and community led methodology to community needs assessment. These include: asset mapping, participatory appraisal and community-led action research. A number of core tools and frameworks are introduced here along with links to the resources themselves.

Tools, resources and method