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Experience has shown that Institutions tend to react to each vacancy or role on a case-by-case basis, treating each as a one-off event. 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.

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

One critical aspect is to consider how specialist roles can be filled by those with a more generalist background and training.

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 these:

  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 for a proleptic appointment, 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 Workforce Planning Analysis template.

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