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Develop a Workforce Plan in 5 Easy Steps

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Workforce Planning is the process of taking stock of the current workforce, forecasting future workforce requirements and identifying gaps or issues.  Workforce Development relates to strategies and activities that bridge those gaps.

A workforce plan captures the current workforce profile, training and development programs, forecasts the future workforce profile, compares the current and future picture and identifies priority gaps to be bridged with workforce development strategies.  So, how do you maximise your workforce productivity and develop a workforce plan?

Workforce BluePrint uses a proven innovative workforce planning and development methodology that is clear, simple and systematised which can be applied at an enterprise, industry, region and/or country level.  This systems approach, developed after many projects in Australia and overseas, aiming to better match workforce demand, supply and training provider provision is called TAKE ACTION.

The following table outlines the parts in the system that are worked through in a logical order and the high level actions that occurs at each step.

System Actions
The full picture


Begin with the problem – why do you need a workforce plan?

Collect all existing evidence, information, reports and research

Understand current context, processes, scope, systems and timeframes as well as impacts on the workforce– global, national, industry based and regional including economic development priorities at national and divisional levels.

At this time (current workforce) Analysis of current workforce profile – critical job roles and capabilities

Identify current workforce issues and gaps

Know what you want (future workforce) Flip the problem into a preferred future workforce scenario using this 8 step approach with stakeholders:

1.     The scenario question – Part of this stage involves picking a year from which the scenarios will look back. How long a time frame do we care about?

2.     The proximate environment – depict the environment in which the decision will be made i.e. how far into the future is the scenario?

3.     Driving forces – consider the economy, industry sectors, labour market and regional needs

4.     Judging importance and uncertainty – For each driving force, we ask three questions: Is it predetermined (unchanging)? How uncertain are we about our ability to predict its importance into the future? Is this particular driving force among the most important drivers of the future — will it make a difference that makes a difference?

5.     Composing the stories – A major rule: check continually to make sure that none of these stories are redundant with each other—that they truly represent different ways that the future might unfold.

6.     Sub-groups and Reality Checks – They always ask: Is the internal plot logical? Can we really get from point A in the plot to point B, C, D, or E? What plausible chain of events, actions, and counter reactions could lead to this future? What kind of economy is consistent with this scenario? What political reactions would have to take place to make it plausible?

7.     Implications – what are they for each scenario and on different stakeholders?

8.     Strategic Visions and Oracles – We have set the scenarios up as competing oracles. It is important to know which oracle is closest to the actual course of history as it actually unfolds.  Also ask: “What kind of world do I want to help create?”

Decide the preferred workforce scenario or vision for the workforce, critical job roles and capabilities.

Forecasting demand vs. supply for each critical job role may be appropriate.

Evaluate the gaps When comparing what we have at this time and knowing what we want into the future, identify all the gaps and issues including critical job roles and capabilities.
Address the gaps (workforce development strategies) Theme and/or cluster the gaps and issues, prioritise and/or risk rate them, summarise key findings

Populate the Workforce Action Plan with workforce development strategies covering analysis and planning of skill demand (with critical job roles and capabilities) to improve the match and implications for skills development funding with targeted investment

Co-design solutions (with stakeholders) To achieve results and using an action-plan model for implementation:

  • Demand-driven skill development plans prepared at an industry level using the TAKE ACTION system underpinned by a capability building approach with stakeholders, industry and partnerships
  • Inclusion Strategy particularly for women and people with disabilities
  • Identify requirements for providers and system change with demand-driven priorities
Timelines and targets Agree timelines for the implementation of Workforce Action Plan
Inspire (for implementation) With the implementation of the Workforce Action Plan, co-design of the solutions with industry, employers, employees, training providers, government, and the Ministry.
Ongoing review Progress on implementation and the achievement of outcomes and outputs for the Workforce Action Plan will require ongoing review with a governance structure involving stakeholders.  This includes monitoring of any scenarios that may not be preferred with any early warning signs and managing accountabilities.
Next workforce (next plan) An iterative, dynamic approach will enable participants to move beyond the gap of the current and future workforce, to the next workforce say 5, 10 or 15 years out.  This could provide an opportunity to develop 21st Century capabilities understanding where career and job opportunities will be across employment and entrepreneurship, the country/region and globally.

You and your team can work through the TAKE ACTION system, summarised by 5 steps and answer the following questions:

Step 1- Context and Environment

Why? Why do we need to undertake workforce planning? Why is it important? What are our goals for this Workforce Plan? What are the performance measures for our Workforce Plan?

Strategic Objectives What are our organisation’s strategic objectives (link workforce plan to strategic plan)? How does this affect our workforce? What will we focus on?

External Environment What is happening in the external environment (at an international, national, industry, regional or local level)? What policies and initiatives (national, state, local) are being implemented? What challenges are being faced? (for example skills/labour shortages, attraction and retention, funding)

Internal Environment What is happening in the internal environment? What is our business planning process? What are the links between business planning and workforce issues? What current initiatives, projects and services are being provided? What funding sources are accessed? What is the organisational structure? What is the organisation’s current capability and capacity to deliver your products and services?

Step 2 – Current Workforce Profile  What is your current workforce profile?  What are the current skills and competencies of your workforce? What are your strengths and development needs? What is the consultation with your current workforce telling you regarding workforce issues and what is working well or what could be improved? What are the current workforce priorities, based on your workforce profiling and analysis?

Step 3 – Future Workforce Profile  What future products and services will be provided by the organisation (link workforce plan to strategic plan)? What will the future environment require? What are the workforce implications and issues? What is the workforce supply and demand for priority job roles? What future skills and competencies are required? What is the consultation with your workforce telling you regarding future workforce issues? What are the future workforce priorities, based on your workforce profiling and analysis?

Step 4 – Gap Analysis and Closing Strategies  What are the key areas of need/action to move from where the organisation is now to where it wants to be especially priority job roles? NOW…Prioritise the ‘issues’ and develop an action plan with strategies to address gaps.

Step 5 – Conclusion, review, evaluation strategy and next steps  What are the key outcomes of your workforce action plan? How will you evaluate the strategies in your workforce plan? What are the next steps for implementation of your workforce action plan?

Workforce Development Strategies

Incorporate existing workforce development strategies into your plan and identify new strategies, for example #1 Priority = Retention and #2 Priority = Attraction and Recruitment.

Queensland Budget – forecasting economic growth strongest of all

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The first thing that stands out in the Queensland Government’s Budget 2016-17 are the Regional Action Plans that mostly align with Local Government Areas and outlines an economic snapshot with a summary of investment for major projects, events, industry sectors and business attraction.  This kind of information is very useful for those in economic development, education, employment, higher education, regional development, and Vocational Education and Training (VET).

Mackay_bulk_sugar_terminalBut what would be even better is a Workforce Action Plan to match the Regional Plans and ensure that the plan for growth has a workforce to match.  This would engage industry leaders and employers in developing local strategies for skills development for the 21st Century.  Perhaps this could be one of the roles played by Jobs Queensland that is future workforce planning for each region based upon the action plans.

Let’s look at the budget in more detail, pulling out those areas of interest from the original budget papers and documents. Read More

Insights on Engaging Employers in Skills Development for the 21st Century

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The Australian Government, Department of Education and Training, together with the OECD, hosted a workshop on Engaging Employers in Skills Development for the 21st Century on 2-3 June 2016 at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

With around 100 colleagues from France, Canada, South Korea, New Zealand and all states and territories this unique event had a programme that included:IMG_0903

  1. Local strategies for improving employer engagement in apprenticeships and other work-based training opportunities
  2. Helping employers engage with young people and career guidance
  3. International lessons on engaging with employers in emerging economies – Southeast Asia and India
  4. The future of work and the implications for skills development
  5. Leading practice in work-based learning: national and international perspective

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Employees want flexibility – key to workforce attraction and retention

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It’s no longer just working parents and care givers who are looking for flexibility.  New research suggests that 70% of Australians want more flexible working conditions but we are too afraid to ask for them.  Fear of losing a promotion and thinking flexible arrangements aren’t possible, often stops workers from even asking.

What is flexible working?

Flexible working means employees have options available, rather than standardised conditions.  Flexibility can include optional start and finish times, choosing to work from home, and job sharing.Coworking_Space_in_Berlin

The Happiness Institute’s Dr Timothy Sharp believes employers can gain a lot from offering flexible working conditions. Read More

Future Industries Strategies – a plan for growth with a workforce to match

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When you’ve advocated for the position of identifying industry and regional economic and workforce priorities, now and into the future, it’s great to see it in action.

Victoria is an example of having many of the components of a 21st Century Workforce with an aspiration for a World-class Vocational Education and Training (VET) system.  On a fundamental level, if you have a plan for growth then you need a workforce to match, with a vision for the workforce and VET into the future.

This blog post explains the Future Industries Fund and aspects of the Victorian budget related to economic and regional development, education and entrepreneurship, employment and jobs, industry and workforce development, plus an invitation to join the Budget 2016 webinar.Tim Pallas Read More

Local companies backing their own in Upper Spencer Gulf

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$1 million will be put towards job creation and support programs for the Upper Spencer Gulf and Outback region, including Port Augusta, Whyalla and Leigh Creek.

The Government is taking action to look after the region, after a recent, damaging blows – such as the closure of the BHP’s Olympic Dam, the Leigh Creek coal mine and Port Augusta power stations.BHP

Included in this funding package is a Regional Job Creation Grant for Port Augusta and Whyalla, support for ongoing visibility of Leigh Creek, and focus on supply chain workers in the region. Read More

Education, Employment, Higher Education and VET – does Entrepreneurship fit?

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From a policy and program point of view, in Australia, there is strong support for business growth, innovation and startups,

Innovation policy was at the top of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Industry and Skills Council meeting… (see press release 5.11.15)

Recent Australian Government announcements include:

·        $5 Billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility

·        Grants to trigger investment and growth in Melbourne’s North

·        $7.3m to support innovative Australian companies

·        Time is right for Sydney Silicon Harbour

Alongside The Prime Minister of Australia, The Hon Malcolm Turnball MP, Hon Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia and Hon Wyatt Roy MP, Assistant Minister for Innovation seem to be the government’s startup advocates.

Austrade has also established a Free Trade Agreement Training Provider Grant to “… help Australian small and medium-sized enterprises and stakeholders understand how to use and access FTAs with Korea, Japan, and China.”

So it seems we have improving policy setting for innovation and startups in the Industry, Innovation and Science portfolios, Trade and Investment but what about education, employment, higher education, international education and Vocational higher Educational employment Training (VET)? Read More

Adelaide’s north – double the growth rate and where are the jobs?

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Adelaide’s north is growing at almost double the rate of the rest of the state.  In a 10-year period, from 2004 and 2014, population increased by 20%m but, alarmingly, job opportunities haven’t match its steady growth – especially amid a decline in manufacturing.

Adelaide’s north hits highest unemployment in SA

According to a recent ABC article, 17% of youth in Adelaide’s north is unemployed… and it’s predicted 5,700 more jobs are need to be created to combat the rising unemployment issue.  Elizabeth alone tops the worst area for employment, coming in at an alarming 32.4%.

In the face of that, the local community are implementing strategies to combat this growing rate, with the City of Salisbury’s Twelve25 Youth Enterprise Centre, a great example.  The centre helps people aged from 12 to 25 to improve their skills and better prepare themselves for employment possibilities.

“We’ve got everything from school holiday programs for the younger kids, right through to entrepreneurial projects for the future Facebook founders of the northern suburbs,” centre manager Rick Henke stated.

Northern Futures is a community-based, not for profit, developing State and Federal programs to advance education, training and workforce development in the northern region.  While WorkReady offers another initiative that youth can take advantage of to access training and employment services, in order to find employment. Read More

2000+ participants in 1 month with 1 facilitator & great feedback – how do you do it?

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In 1 month, I hosted 10 webinars with up to 330 people in each one and got feedback like “I was really impressed with your facilitation of the webinar last week, both in managing your various presenters, talking to the people in the group – numerous as they were, and in explaining to people how the technology worked.  It was brilliant.”

I believe people are ready for webinars, why?  Well we have seen huge growth in the numbers of people choosing to participate in webinars often booking out all the places.

Less time out of the office, informative and helpful, cost effective as no travel time, easy access to presenters, and bonuses like webinar recordings all mean that webinars should be in the mix of what you do.

With a word of warning because if you are presenting webinars you need to do them really well.

It is different to presenting in a workshop, classroom or forum and some people find a webinar presentation way more stressful.  For example:

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Nations need a vision to inspire their workforce

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This blog post is the article written by Nigel Austin from The Advertiser published on 18 January 2014 page 79 in the business section for the Silent Achiever’s story.

See the full article and photo here.

Wendy Perry has developed such a great business niche and reputation that she advises countries such as the Maldives and Bhutan about workforce planning and development as well as state and federal government departments, and industry groups.

She was fearful about leaving a senior policy role with the Education Department to start Wendy Perry and Associates at the age of 29 in January 2003.

But she was confident in the future because she had recognised the emerging field of workforce planning and development building on her expertise in Vocational Education and Training (VET).

Boldly deciding to go out on her own she started working for her first client in a project leadership role on the National VET workforce development program with organisations from around Australia.

WPerry NBN

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