What is Systemic Strategic Workforce Planning and Development?

Systemic strategic workforce planning and development refers to a comprehensive and integrated approach to managing and developing a workforce. This concept is applied across various scales, including industry sectors, regions, towns, cities, communities, and countries. The goal is to ensure that the workforce is capable, adaptable, and aligned with current and future economic and societal needs.

Industry Sectors: In specific industry sectors, strategic workforce planning involves understanding the unique skill requirements and trends within that sector. For example, the technology sector might focus on digital skills, while healthcare might prioritize clinical skills and empathy. This planning requires collaboration among businesses, educational institutions, and policymakers to ensure a steady supply of skilled workers.

Regions, Towns, Cities, Communities: At these levels, the focus shifts to local employment needs and opportunities. Workforce development programs are often tailored to address the specific economic conditions and job markets of a region or city. This might involve re-skilling workers in declining industries, promoting entrepreneurship, or attracting new industries to the area.

Countries: On a national level, strategic workforce planning can be part of broader economic development strategies. Governments might implement policies to enhance education and vocational training, support industries with high growth potential, and invest in infrastructure to create a conducive environment for economic growth.

Thought leaders like Josh Bersin and Wendy Perry highlight several key trends and future directions in workforce planning:

  1. Emphasis on Continuous Learning: The rapid pace of technological change necessitates a workforce that is continuously learning and adapting. This includes not just technical skills but also soft skills like adaptability, problem-solving, and collaboration.
  2. Greater Use of Data and AI: Data analytics and artificial intelligence are increasingly being used to predict workforce trends, identify skills gaps, and tailor training programs.
  3. Focus on Employee Experience: Recognising that a satisfied and engaged workforce is more productive, organizations are placing greater emphasis on employee experience, well-being, and work-life balance.
  4. Diversity and Inclusion: There is a growing recognition of the value of a diverse workforce. Efforts are being made to ensure inclusivity in hiring, promotion, and development opportunities.
  5. Public-Private Partnerships: Collaboration between the public and private sectors is crucial for effective workforce development. This includes aligning educational programs with industry needs and investing in community-based job training initiatives.
  6. Global and Local Balance: Organisations and governments need to balance global workforce trends with local needs and cultures. This means customizing workforce strategies to fit the unique context of different regions and countries.

Wendy Perry, a strategic workforce planning and development expert, emphasises the importance of aligning Vocational Education and Training (VET) with the needs of industry sectors, regions, and learners to address skills shortages and promote economic growth. She advocates for a clear set of shared priorities within the VET sector, a focus on solving key problems such as skill mismatches and outdated qualifications, and a streamlined approach to qualifications and quality assurance. Perry also highlights the necessity for a single regulatory body in Australia to enhance quality and efficiency. Her vision includes leveraging AI for workforce planning and ensuring VET programs are future-focused, relevant, and aligned with industry needs. Perry calls for a collaborative effort to refresh the provider market and ensure trainers and assessors maintain industry currency and excellence. Furthermore, she sees the integration of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) into VET as crucial for holistic education that addresses broader societal challenges​​.

Perry's insights offer a comprehensive roadmap for systemic strategic workforce planning and development that not only meets immediate employment needs but also anticipates future challenges and opportunities. This approach underscores the importance of agility, collaboration, and innovation in creating a workforce capable of thriving in an ever-changing global landscape.

Systemic strategic workforce planning and development is about creating a holistic, data-driven approach to building a workforce that meets the evolving needs of industry, society, and the economy. It requires collaboration across various stakeholders and a commitment to continuous learning and adaptation.

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