By John Booth

Workforce planning is a discipline essential for Management to prepare for successful projects or change that involves a large number of people. The people planning needs for developing a new mine is more than preparing a fully costed manpower plan.

The key reasons for formulating a complete workforce plan are as follows:

  • having an evidence-based plan to increase the confidence in the approach for staffing the operation by having the right information to the right people at the right time;
  • maximising retention of existing staff and skills and the ability to attract high performing staff;
  • preparing for skills supply and demand dynamics in the various markets (local-local, national and expatriates);
  • identifying accurate numbers / costs of people and skills needed at the various levels; and
    prudent identification, monitoring, and management of workforce risk.

Managing risk is the critical part of workforce planning that is often overlooked or underestimated. A thorough workforce plan will identify the risks along with workforce development strategies to mitigate those risks. The critical workforce development strategies that result from the workforce plan for mining projects are:

  • Attraction and recruitment
  • Learning and development
  • Succession planning
  • Organization and job design
  • Relocation and mobility

In ascertaining if a workforce plan is needed, the following questions will support the decision-making process:

  • Do you have an evidence-based workforce development strategy (such as recruitment or learning and development)?
  • Can the skills and competencies needed be identified?
  • Are the mobility trends of the people who are crucial to the business understood?
  • Where can workers with suitably matched skills and experiences be found?
  • Does the organization have workforce planning capabilities and systems to support workforce planning methods?
  • Have the working life stages of the workforce been identified, as well as the associated implications for current and future supply (i.e. how many new entry, early career, mid- or end-of-career workers are there in the business and what positions do they hold? Are they in critical job groups and/or are they in the leadership team?)?
  • Is there a succession plan for people working in critical jobs/job groups?
  • Have sources for workforce planning expertise, advice and support been identified?