As we start an exciting new term, conversations with my fellow HRD’s in colleges have turned to the complex challenges that 2022 will bring.
Colleges, like every employer in the country over the last 18 months, have faced skills shortages, demands to satisfy new ways of working and issues of rising salary costs within budget constraints. If we couple this with the need for employee upskilling, requiring digital innovation, we soon have a perfect storm on our hands.
So, to help to deal with the complexities facing us, I thought it would be useful to share with you my techniques for the process of workforce development planning; in case this is a new area for you, or something that you are wrestling with, or you just haven’t got the capacity to start this process off.
I know about workforce development planning as I have been through three college mergers and each time, I have had to prepare a workforce development plan. I also had the privilege to speak last year at the Annual Apprenticeship Conference on this topic.

So how can I help you?

Firstly, here’s some take-aways about workforce development planning which you can use to communicate the need for a plan in the first place, especially if you have some in-house detractors*:
  • Workforce development planning is a core business process which aligns changing organisation needs with your people strategy.
  • It doesn’t need to be complicated and can be adjusted to suit the size and maturity of your organisation.
  • It provides market and industry intelligence to help you to focus on a range of challenges and issues and prepare for initiatives to support longer term business goals.
  • Retaining staff is an issue in the current jobs market so you do need a plan to achieve this.
  • Hiring impacts on the culture of an organisation which also affects workplace behaviours, so arguably you need to plan well in advance for every recruitment decision; and consider the long-term impact of hiring well.
Secondly, here’s some tips on how you can achieve your plan;
  • Focus on the external political economic, societal, technological, legal and environmental forces which are placing pressure on your internal staffing plans. This is called a PESTLE analysis.
  • Know about the internal drivers which shape your college. This will be contained in your college strategy documents and in your curriculum and financial planning tools. Join-up with your colleagues and make sure they provide you with the information you need (return to * if you need to reinforce this message)
  • Analyse your staffing data carefully. Your current workforce will need to be organised into the following categories;

  • Consider all the options and scenarios available to you, to fill the roles that you need.
Questions to ask yourself and others
Will you:
a) recruit new staff
b) develop existing staff
c) outsource
d) redeploy
e) use contingent staffing models
f) automate processes in the future, or any combination of a-f
  • Create a workforce development action plan which should include all areas of the college and keep everyone on track.
I’ve created a Workforce Development Plan Template which you can download and populate to suit your college needs and create your plan. You can DOWNLOAD it here.
And finally, please remember that you can always contact me if you would like more information or help and support in this area.
Catch up soon.
Vanessa Rhodes – HR & Partnerships Director









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