Open mobile menu

Head of Policy, Education & Skills

Role Summary:

An effective education and skills system is the best strategy for economic growth and social mobility any country can have. Because of this, improving schools and skills performance across the UK is a key part of the CBI’s Prosperity Agenda and a focus of much of our work. Working with our members and the CBI senior team, the Head of Education & Skills is responsible for leading a team that develops and delivers our work on this topic. From apprenticeships to early years, the CBI seeks to be influential and focussed on solutions that meet the needs of our members, and society at large.  

Key Responsibilities:

Developing a motivated, effective team
  • Effectively leading a team of policy professionals focussed on improving the outcomes of the education and skills systems of the UK.
  • Setting direction for individual members of the team, and investing time in ensuring effective professional development for team members.
  • Using supportive challenge to encourage member-focus, innovation and high quality in all the team’s work.
  • Contributing to the success of the wider CBI through the leadership group of our People & Infrastructure team.
  • Ensuring effective collaboration with CBI policy teams in the devolved nations and English regions on education and skills issues.
  • Helping the team to work effectively with our Higher Education sector team on relevant policy issues.
Developing CBI work in consultation with our members
  • Setting priorities for the CBI in the field of education and skills, working with members and CBI colleagues.
  • Using their skills and experience to develop work plans that are influential and effective in achieving member goals.
  • Advising and guiding member on key issues that will affect the business community – or their individual business – and possible responses.
  • Working with commercial colleagues to recruit and retain new members with an interest in education and skills issues
Effective lobbying and campaigning designed to improve outcomes
  • Acting as the CBI’s senior specialist on education and skills issues – speaking on platforms including CBI events and in the media.
  • Advising and supporting the CBI’s senior team on issues related to education and skills.
  • Using effective campaign planning to deliver engaging and persuasive CBI messages in a variety of media.
  • Developing and managing a range of senior contacts within Government and key other stakeholders and working with these partners to influence positive change in UK education and skills systems.
  • Developing a network in business and politics that supports the work of the team and helps to demonstrate the value the CBI adds to businesses.

Knowledge & Experience

What an individual must know or understand to be able to fulfil the role’s requirements


  • Record of effectively delivering influencing results in a complex and political policy environment
  • Strong understanding of the education and skills environment in the UK


  • Experience of management and developing a team in a policy environment.


This role is at level three in the CBI’s structure – Management – and all of the CBI skills framework requirements for that level of the organisation apply, along with certain additional requirements specific to this role:

Planning & Organising

  • Can plan and allocate the work of a team to align with organisational goals and timeframes for delivery
  • Can manage cross-functional workstreams effectively, utilising and organising resources from across the organisation
  • Can use business planning tools alongside their own judgement to make trade-offs which deliver the best for the organisation
  • Role models good time management to their team and colleagues
  • Has a healthy approach to work life balance and flexible working
  • Empowers and supports the team to prioritise, push back and say no.
  • Takes a leadership role in directing and coordinating whole team/business group workplans to deliver on CBI objectives
  • Proactively forecasts for appropriate budget and resource in line with the CBI strategy and workplan for their area
  • Strategically plans work to align with the external operating environment to get the best outcome for the business
  • Takes a lead role in communicating to the business when delivery is compromised or workplans should change
  • Calls out and steps in when they see the CBI approach to flexible working and work-life balance not being upheld.
Research & Using Information
  • Proactively and effectively shares and deploys relevant information across the organisation
  • Can robustly analyse complex information or data, drawing on the relevant expertise of self or others
  • Predicts or forecasts outcomes based on information or data and propose solutions that best support the CBI’s objectives.
  • Uses internal and external research and intelligence to shape/create strategic direction of the CBI
  • Always supports people internally and externally to understand highly complex analysis
  • Can translate technical analysis into non-technical language
  • Can draw out big picture trends from detailed, complex data.
Interpersonal skills
  • Proactively utilises extensive internal and external network to the wider benefit of the team and CBI outside of own role
  • Develops positive relationships across their industry that build the profile of the CBI Influences groups of people or organisations internally and externally to achieve CBI objectives
  • Supports less experienced people to prepare for and engage in negotiations, providing guidance and feedback to help them improve
  • Can manage and resolve conflict with and between individuals and groups
  • Can manage upwards, often influencing those more senior
  • Throughout all decision making and communication remains approachable and empathetic
  • Effectively upward manages, communicating value of team and pushes back against unnecessary initiatives.
Strategic & business thinking
  • Plans strategically –scenario planning, anticipating potential future situations
  • Advises the organisation on risk mitigation and commercial opportunities
  • Can use understanding of CBI and/or member financial data (e.g. balance sheets, profit and loss) to focus activities that ensure return on investment
  • Has a deep understanding of and can articulate the CBI’s commercial objectives that goes beyond short term targets
  • Supports others to see the bigger picture, encouraging thinking that goes beyond own role and team
  • Where relevant, can manage budget and maintain accurate and transparent financial information.
  • Makes business decisions based on the needs of the entire organisation, not just own business area
  • Can articulate and respond to challenge on the CBI’s economic and political narrative to senior member/public/political audiences of all sizes
  • Acts as a regional/trade press spokesperson agreeing media lines
  • Uses a wide range of communication channels to reach audiences, and proactively explores new and innovative ways of conveying messages
  • Ability to convey complex and multi-faceted information to a range of audiences simultaneously, keeping key messages front of line
  • Supports less experienced people to shape and deliver communications.
  • Can speak and present to large audiences, delivering messages with impact and conviction
  • Provides expert guidance to the organisation on what information is communicated to external stakeholders how, and when
  • Ensures their team always receive consistent, timely and accurate internal information.

Managing & leading

  • Motivates a team to meet a common goal
  • Delegates work appropriately and empowers team members to work autonomously
  • Understands and is aware of unconscious biases, taking steps to minimise these and their impact on decisions
  • Understands and knows how to apply employment law principles to role as a manager
  • Can effectively manage difficult conversations and conflict, working to achieve positive and constructive outcomes
  • Supports development of team members, providing on the job opportunities to improve and grow
  • Proactively supports the wellbeing of team members.


The behaviours and characteristics required to be able to fulfil the role’s requirements

  • Collaborative – Listening, seeking views and sharing information; constructively challenging when appropriate
  • Taking ownership – Ensuring delivery and holding others to account; can influence, irrespective of hierarchy
  • Agile – Proactive and responsive to provide a strong member service; responding positively to shifting priorities
  • Commercial – Awareness of the wider business environment
  • Innovative – Exploring, sharing and integrating best practice; generating new ideas and challenging a mind-set of “what we’ve always done”
  • Analytical – gathering information and using logic to analyse, problem solve, evaluate risk and make decisions

How to apply

For all applications please send your CV and cover letter to with the subject 'Head of Policy, Education &Skills'. The deadline for applications is Monday 22nd January. 

Related news