Prevalence of workforce plans

There is a strong case for a more comprehensive approach to workforce planning across the NSW public sector. Workforce planning assists agencies in meeting their service delivery objectives while managing other challenges such as tighter budgets, changing workforce demographics, competition for talent and increasing service delivery demands. The 2012 NSW Commission of Audit highlighted the importance of workforce planning as a key requirement for attaining excellence in people management and addressing issues such as skills shortages, the ageing workforce, and difficulties attracting and retaining employees in certain locations.

There is no agreed definition of workforce planning across the public sector. It can encompass a diverse range of activities that may vary between organisations and situations. The Agency survey gauged the extent to which agencies had documented workforce plans that aligned workforce requirements with business objectives, and addressed future workforce demand and supply of workforce capabilities. Almost three-quarters of agencies reported that they had implemented such a plan, with the majority (44%) describing their maturity level as basic and 8% rating it as highly developed. Out of all clusters, education and transport agencies were most likely to have implemented documented workforce plans.

Identification of critical roles, and of the number and capability of employees currently needed, have the most frequent implementation ratings (83% of agencies) out of 14 workforce planning factors. Approximately 46% of agencies report implementation at developed or highly developed levels.

However, the results also showed a relatively lower focus on future requirements. Only 35% of agencies reported they had plans to identify the number and capability of employees that would be needed more than five years into the future. Further, only 9% of agencies had estimated demand and supply of workforce capabilities likely six to 10 years into the future.

Figure 21: Workforce planning strategies implemented by agencies

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Agencies ranked the following workforce planning factors among their top challenges in the Agency survey: the resources, time or cost involved in undertaking workforce planning (listed by 62% of agencies with 32% ranking it number one), and the limitations of the existing human resources management system (52% of agencies with 17% ranking it first). The first factor was also the most nominated challenge by the Australian Public Service (APS) in its 2013 State of the Service survey.

There are excellent opportunities for organisations to develop their workforce planning practices and deliver workforce productivity through the use of technology. Specifically, human capital management (HCM) information systems provide a central point where workforce information, including skills, experience, training and on‑the-job development activities can be captured for analysis. They can help employees get the most out of capability development and career paths, and assist managers and organisations to better understand their workforce and to develop a high-quality organisation.

PSC has worked with agencies to identify NSW Government HCM requirements and products that meet these requirements. Agencies will decide how to adopt HCM systems based on their workforce needs and business priorities. PSC is providing tools that help with HCM projects and access to seed funding to encourage a smooth and early adoption.

The Public Service Commission acknowledges the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the land on which our office stands.