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Workforce planning provides a vehicle for institutions to think ahead and consider options for training existing staff into new roles, filling posts in advance, or introducing new services. Equally, workforce planning can help expose areas where staff might need re-training as current work demands change.

The consequence of not planning can include: loss of critical operational knowledge; lack of career development for current staff; and an interruption of an important service.

The basic process is straightforward. Taking the institution’s strategic and financial plans into account, consider:

  1. Identify roles which are critical to the institution’s operations
  2. Which of these are in areas in which it is difficult to recruit?
  3. In which of these roles might a vacancy arise soon?

(School (or equivalent) HR teams can provide data to support this process.)

There are a number of potential responses including:

  1. It doesn’t matter: although critical at present, this role is not needed in the future, or it is going to be outsourced
  2. The role is essential and/or evolving. The institution will revise the role description and advertise internally, funding permitting. (Consider training a ‘generalist’ to become a ‘specialist’.)
  3. Recruit a specialist, with or without an overlap
  4. Retraining an employee from an area of activity which is reducing

Institutions may find it helpful to use this 5-step guide: workforce planning.

Institutions should regularly review their analysis and planned response. Long term plans should include the use of Apprenticeships.