Strategic Skills Planning vs the Workplace Skills Plan

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Strategic Skills Planning vs the Workplace Skills Plan
By Sarah Babb

The Skills Framework

Many training practitioners shudder at the thought of the all too often daunting process of compiling their Workplace Skills Plans (WSP). It has been a longstanding cry that the WSP is a meaningless document and that it is somehow a painful process to compile.

The reason that the WSP is not adding any value, is because it is not intended to replace the Strategic Skills Development Plan. The WSP captures numbers of interventions and targeted beneficiaries, it does not describe the overall strategy for the development of people.

There are key policy decisions and implications of these for skills development. Such as: do you forego the development of an internal resource, risking the loss of this talent, to bring in an external equity candidate? How many new recruits, interns, learners, apprentices will you target bringing in vs how much internal talent development do you invest in? Do you prioritise current core skills over future critical skills development? To what extent can you develop new leaders and how do you manage succession? To what extent can you rely on the external labour market or does your company invest in skills development for the sector? All of these issues inform your strategic skills plan. This is not about just tracking training, such as the WSP does, to a limited extent.

Too often businesses implement the "same old? training programmes, year in and year out. Huge amounts are spent sending people on training courses, and yet there seems to be no improvement in performance or impact on the business. This is due to the lack of strategic input in devising the overall training and development strategy and plan.

The key influences on identifying strategy training and development needs of a business are:

1. Interpret the business strategy and business plan in terms of people development needs

2. Establish an overall talent management strategy, which includes bringing in talent and building talent

3. Complete a strategic skills audit, including considering the strategic capabilities for the business

4. Identify talent pools within the business

5. Design and source multiple development interventions for each of the key talent pools, customizing content and delivery methods to ensure targeted learning interventions

6. Explore leadership development interventions, including mentoring, action learning, and work-based projects

7. Consider orientation development needs when redeploying talent

8. Ensure capacity is built in development, namely mentors, managers ability to devise personal development plans with their teams

9. Integrate the business values and strategic capabilities across all learning interventions

10. Insist on assessment of competence and the impact of each and every learning intervention - develop the tools and capacity to conduct assessments

The strategic skills plan must be informed by the overall business strategy as well as the overall human capital plan. There is a fine line between and iteration between the processes, as the human capital plan could even influence the business plan, and the skills development strategy could in turn inform the Human capital plan.

This view of strategic training and development requires that you consider not only the current needs of current staff - which is critical to build both confidence and competence. But also to deduce what is imperative for business success into the future, hence aligning current interventions with the emerging strategic needs.

Over and above this, you will incorporate the needs of the talent pools and of individuals, engaging in development plans in terms of future roles and responsibilities.

Your development interventions thus consider all three:

* Current competence requirements

* Strategic business needs

* Future deployment capability

For any learning, however, to be sustainable the learning process is supported within the business measures- such as the performance management process reinforces development needs through the personal development plans, the key leaders fulfil mentoring roles, and the continual assessments track competence and the application and transfer of learning. Without overall impact evaluation of the development programmes, the interventions are meaningless.

Consider the impact the programmes have on:

* Competence

* Confidence and commitment

* Capability for the future.

This will be the "litmus? test of whether your training and development is strategic and whether it is having the business impact it intends to. Not only will this have the impact on the business but it will also serve to contribute to retaining key talent, as relevant development opportunities are continually provided.

Development opportunities emerge for people, as they move through various roles within the business, and within current roles as they are aligned with the changing business needs.

What must be borne in mind, is that the strategic alignment of training does not necessarily lead to an increase in the overall training bill- but it does target investment on areas of need, and force one to devise varying ways of delivering learning opportunities. Classroom-based learning is merely one way of providing learning input, but has been shown to have limitations in terms of the transfer of learning.

Through careful and targeted interventions, supported by overall assessments and mentoring, strategic training and development, leads to a more sustainable and valuable investment in talent development.

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