Can you become more skilful at workforce planning?

The future skills needs of organisations have never been more unclear. With technology disrupting whole industries, employee skills becoming outdated faster and employees working in entirely different ways (many remote or freelance), organisations are finding it difficult to keep up.

Is it possible for human resources teams to get a better grip on their workforce skills needs?


Becoming skilful at managing workforce skills

What skills already exist in your organisation? What skills will your organisation need – now, and into the future? How can you source those skills - internally or externally – and how can you build genuine skills and workforce capacity through integrated learning and development pathways?

A lot of organisations don’t ask these questions in any kind of systematic way. While hiring for roles, often what is neglected is an understanding of the underlying skills required by those roles, where those skills might exist, and how they might mesh together into a living, growing skills matrix.

Organisations can do better with detailed skills tracking and skills planning. By becoming more skilful at managing the packets of skills needed within a workforce, organisations can better plan and meet the challenges of the future with genuine foresight, capability and an action-oriented posture.


1. Audit and map your workforce skills

A skills audit of your workforce by business, department or team is a great place to start. By going deep on the skills you have available to you across different parts of your organisation, you can begin mapping those skills against the organisational structure, individual roles and distributed skills needs of the organisation, creating a more holistic picture of your resources and capabilities.


2. Identify and mitigate any skills gaps

A PwC survey of Australian CEOs in 2018 found 75 per cent were concerned about the availability of key skills. A skills audit – or even informal chats with team leaders or managers – can identify where some of those skills gaps are. By identifying genuine areas of skills need, organisations can be better equipped to replenish or scale up a workforce, by ensuring hiring is aligned with future needs.


3. Recruit to match future skills needs

The amount of data available on future trends across industries increases by the hour. More and more, organisations are utilising this valuable data alongside their own business imperatives to shine a light on the skills they will need in the future. With a skills map and a clear direction, organisations can determine if they should train existing employees or bring new talent into the organisation.


4. Develop your existing workforce

The pace of change is demanding that organisations and their employees become increasingly nimble in the way they view skills and roles, with an acceleration expected in the pace at which new skills will need to be acquired through training, credentials or informal learning. Organisations will need to become much more efficient at reskilling existing workforces to align with future needs.


5. Create meaningful talent pathways

Part of the skills mapping process is creating crystalised, meaningful pathways for employees to take within an organisation. By mapping their future potential career as a series of skills stepping stones, you will be better able to demonstrate how the attainment of certain sets of hard or soft skills can contribute towards a career pathway with the organisation, so you can hold on to the best talent.