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What does a policy advisor do?

There’s often some confusion about the difference between an advisor and a policy analyst—and for good reason, because the two jobs often have a lot of overlap. However an advisor usually works on the periphery of actual policy making, and may have a more operational focus. They are normally more concerned with the functional and operational side of policy, as opposed to the analytic ‘nitty gritty’ of policy.

Generally the role of a policy advisor is to inform policy analysts on the various issues involved in policy making. For example, the policy advisor might give advice on a particular program run by the government—Was it effective? Were there problems?—which the policy analyst can then use to make their decisions. They may look at ways to implement policies when they have been approved by Parliament. A team of advisors may assist a single policy analyst to create a policy.

Day-to-day, an advisor could also expect to be involved in a similar range of responsibilities as a policy analyst—they may be expected to write reports, consult with various stakeholders, and spend a great deal of time reading and analysing information relating to their sector. They would normally be expected to have tertiary qualifications in relevant areas.