What HR Managers Need to Know

Human Resource Planning is a process of ascertaining the future human resource requirements of an organisation and reviewing how the existing capacity can be best prepared to fulfill these requirements, or how these may be acquired externally to address this organisation’s needs. This planning process is what assists in ensuring that that organisation will have the appropriate competent and trained resources, in the required numbers, at the required places and time, in order to ensure the organisation is able to meet its strategic objectives. This process, therefore, requires proper analysis of the current and future state situations of the organisation. Although the process may sound simple enough, it is not always so in practice. Many complex factors need to be taken into consideration.

The most relevant factor in context of the South African labour demand and supply market is the mismatch between current and future skills requirements for economic growth. The supply of these skills by our lagging educational institutions also leaves organisations to bear the burden of planning for them into their human resources planning processes. Learning and skills development are internal mechanisms to address this as part of human resource planning and have thus become an extension in this process.

The fact that the current BB-BEE Act and the amended codes place Skills Development as a priority element recognizes that in the South African context, skills development is and will be an essential mechanism to effect economic empowerment in the transformation mission and objective.

When HR professionals embark on the planning process, the first point of call is to assess internally the current skills, experience and qualifications available in the organisation. Most often, at this point there is already a shortfall in the current competencies to meet the organisation’s current objectives. For this reason, many organisations have an internal or customized development structure to make up for their shortages.

Next, when analyzing the future requirements of an organisation, factors such as technology, systems and processes that would make the organisation more competitive may not be easily implementable as the gap between the current competence and required competence for implementation and operation may be extremely wide.

Furthermore, this lack of skills and experience in the wider labour market is experienced by most organisations, hence competition for these limited resources has an impact on the cost that one would have to pay for this competence. It drives labour costs up and, thus, the cost of delivery and productivity.

Therefore, employee training is placed in sharp focus within organisations. Much more effort to give structure to the interventions that address gaps must be prioritised, with a view to optimize human resource planning for future training needs.  Organisations find that they need to have structures that emphasize lifelong learning within the training and development processes, from adult basic education and learnerships at operational levels, through to graduate, leadership and executive development programmes.

Where organisations cannot carry the cost of these interventions within their internal capability, many find themselves pooling resources with industry partners and educational institutions to leverage off economies of scale. While the Sector Education & Training Authorities (SETAs) are looked upon for this type of support, funding remains a challenge as most of the discretionary grant efforts require a co-funded approach. Furthermore, administration issues at these SETAs make the carrying of these costs by organisations very taxing.

Organisations may implement succession planning and talent management processes which build a pool of trained employees who are ready to fill key roles when leaders and other key employees step down. Companies with succession planning programmes in place foster a talent-oriented culture by recruiting skilled workers and top talent.

Graduate training programmes are a way of bridging the gap between academic training and business skills and experience. These programmes ease candidates into the practical work environment and give them the skills necessary to become part of the larger team. They tend to last either one or two years. These candidates may also rotate between various divisions in a business. As a talent management process, these programmes provide a pool of qualified candidates who are often integral to the HR planning process.

It is also for this reason that many organisations find themselves falling short in planning and preparing for upskilling and re-skilling attempts to address future skills requirements in terms of the Fourth Industrial technologies, or green skills development.

Digital transformation is also having an impact on human resource planning, thus HR professionals find that they need to include organisational re-design for agility in their planning process as structures are being revised to accommodate these changes. The HR planning process may now also include skills available in the contracting, micro-jobbing and Gig work markets as these are known to provide specialist skills and knowledge not easily developed through ordinary training mechanisms available to organisations.

Employee training and mechanisms for funding of this development will remain a focus in the coming years, with even more focus applied to scarce and critical skills gap closure. If we are to be agile and competitive, HR planning will have to continue to take training and skills development planning as a necessary extension in its HR planning process, both internally as well as externally on an industry and sector level.

Contact the SEIFSA Human Capital and Skills Development Division if you need help with planning your next training intervention.

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