7.6.3 Practitioner licensing

The term practitioner is used to describe a person who provides support to new and established societies developing a community share offer. The CSU recognises two levels of practitioner; registered practitioners and licensed practitioners. Registered practitioners have been assessed for their competency in understanding the requirements of the Community Shares Standards and are able to provide business support on matters relating to community shares. Licenced practitioners have been licenced by the CSU to conduct Standard Mark assessments of share offer documents, and to award the Community Shares Standard Mark.   

Registered practitioners have a wide variety of backgrounds and specialisms. Many have hands-on experience as entrepreneurs and directors of societies that have made successful community share offers. Some specialise in specific trade sectors and are able to provide expert technical support in those areas. Others may have specific areas of business practice expertise, in financial modelling, community engagement, governance and organisation, or developing business plans and offer documents.

Licenced practitioners have similar backgrounds and specialisms as registered practitioners but are additionally licenced to assess share offers and award the Community Shares Standard Mark. To become a licenced practitioner, candidates must successfully complete a client case study assignment, involving a supervised Standard Mark assessment of a share offer, and produce a written case study of their work in supporting the client society in meeting the requirements of the Standard Mark. In addition to this, they must successfully complete three further Standard Mark assessments, at least one of which must be as the lead assessor, with the two other assessments can be completed as peer reviews.

A peer review is where a practitioner conducts an initial assessment of a share offer, which is also being assessed by the CSU, which then compares the two assessments, and determines whether the peer review is satisfactory or not. A registered practitioner must satisfactorily complete one peer review, to demonstrate their understanding of the Community Shares Standards.

Fully licenced practitioners are free to award the Standard Mark to share offers without supervision from the CSU, although all awards must be archived with the CSU, and are subject to regular monitoring. A licenced practitioner cannot award the Standard Mark to a share offer document they have written, or where they are on the board of the society making the share offer.     

 The Community Shares Unit maintains a directory of registered and licenced practitioners on its website, highlighting the practitioners’ profiles, sector specialisms and operational regions.

If you have any questions or suggestions for new information you would like to find in the Handbook, contact the team by email at communityshares@uk.coop