I read with interest Peter Cappelli's article, "The Future Mismatch of Skills" -- primarily due to the absence of any mention of strategic workforce planning (SWFP). The article was informative and made good points, but I was rather surprised by the last sentence: "we really can't predict and plan for what will happen in the great kitchen of the U.S. economy."
We can't make long-term predictions for the entire U.S. economy, but it is certainly possible to use external and internal data for a specific industry, three to five years out. That is SWFP: gathering this data, analyzing it, modeling future scenarios and then creating action plans based on those scenarios so that the company's strategic business goals are fully staffed.
This data includes educational stats such as how many people graduated with IT degrees this year, along with census data, relevant national labor and industry-specific statistics, and in-house employee information.
Fortunately, there are a few companies that now offer SWFP software to make this essential task less daunting.
This type of analysis differs from operational workforce planning, which is what most people think of: determining headcount to meet the operational needs from one year to the next. It's not aligned to the strategic business plan. While operational workforce planning is necessary, it can't predict or plan in the way that strategic workforce planning can.
No system is foolproof, of course, but to not do SWFP is to wait for things to work themselves out -- at which point your "kitchen" may be hopelessly obsolete.
Ms. Heath Davis Havlick
Media Relations Specialist
FISHER VISTA, LLC /HRmarketer.com
Capitola, CA 95010