The concept of problem-solving in the Spotlight framework refers to three different levels of experience and proficiency at which the Spotlight skills are applied.

  • At Level 1, the individual learns the job by solving problems that are new to the learner but not for more experienced workers, so do not include it in the activity examples.
  • Proficient problem-solving – At Level 3 skill, the jobholder is able to carry out some parts of the job automatically and this frees up the jobholder’s attention to concentrate on solving new problems.
  • Creative solution-sharing – This Level 4 skill is based on the collective aspects of workplace learning. Workers often learn from each other informally. Through this process, new approaches are generated.

Describing problem-solving skills using Spotlight

Problem-solving skill

3. Proficient problem-solving

4. Creative solution-sharing

A. Shaping awareness – capacity to develop, focus and shape your own and other participants’ awareness

A1. Sensing contexts or situations

Uses information from various sources to solve a problem.

Exchanges rapid updates with colleagues.

Uses knowledge of the job to anticipate and prevent problems.

Shares solutions to problems with colleagues

Solves a problem for a client or colleague by sifting key issues from masses of detail.

Helps create and maintain internal and external networks, keep up to date on developments and trends in your work area.

A2. Monitoring and guiding reactions


Handles situations where participants have varying levels of awareness and want different degrees of disclosure.

Shares notes with colleagues to identify causes of difficulties and find ways of handling them.

Manages major tasks by breaking them into steps.

Prepares for a key event by rehearsing and gaining feedback from trusted colleague.

A3. Judging impacts

Picks the right moment for conveying news, judging from reactions how much to say.

Regularly checks that others share the same understanding of what is going on.

Tests ideas before coming up with a solution to a problem.

Constructively challenges practices that compromise the safety or dignity of others.

B. Interacting and relating – capacity to negotiate interpersonal, organisational and intercultural relationships

B1. Negotiating boundaries

Finds a pleasant way to refuse requests that would deflect from deadlines.

Tactfully shares knowledge and experience with more senior people.

Confronts problems quickly and directly.

Gives others space to learn and make mistakes.


Negotiates or advocates in a way that is effective but retains goodwill.

Finds ways to give and receive feedback in unequal power situations.

B2. Communicating verbally/non-verbally

Prevents miscommunication by translating between diverse groups.


Identifies problems and communicates solutions in ways that can be understood by non-experts.  

B3. Connecting across cultures

Works effectively with people who have different approaches to time.

Listens attentively at gatherings based on another language or culture.

C. Coordinating – capacity to organise your own work, link it into to the overall workflow and deal with disruptions

C1. Sequencing/combining activities

Assesses urgency and importance of simultaneous calls on attention, to avoid crises.

Exchanges tricks of the trade and ideas for short-cuts with colleagues.

Quickly solves problems that arise during an activity.

Develops ways of recording details events, to allow effective follow-up.

C2. Interweaving activities with others’

Ensures legal and safe procedures in a rapidly changing situation.

Mobilises support networks for a rapid response.

C3. Maintaining/restoring workflow

Prevents minor issues turning into bigger problems.

Cooperates with others to find a way around or through obstacles.


Develops fail-safe tracking system to ensure accountability.

Makes best use of resources through wise timing of spending.

Makes safe decisions in situations where not all the information is available.

Develops and shares techniques for solving problems under pressure.