Workforce Planning: It’s Back to Basics (again!)…

Rachel Sumner

September 21, 2022

I am an economist. By training. In fact, the first stage of my career saw me practicing these skills in my role as an Emerging Market Analyst for Unilever plc. My undergraduate dissertation focused on Becker’s Human Capital theories and thus my interest in the workforce was born. Follow this up with a Master’s degree in Education examining Curriculum, Training and the Future of Work and you can potentially see some of the threads that together form the fabulous patchwork quilt of my professional life. Why do I share this with you? Because recently I have been getting back to the basics. The basics of economic theory, the basics of market theory, in which it is understood that one of the most common reasons for market failure is the poor flow of information between demand and supply side agents.

But why have I been getting back to these basics? Because at the very core of ensuring we deliver on TALENT’s vision; namely, to ensure a lifetime of meaningful employment for all, is the critical need to improve the flow of information between demand and supply agents in the Canadian labour market. We’ve written before about our work around Skills Signaling and in doing so we put forward three necessary steps which we recap here:

  1. Bring employers together to co-design a skills and competency framework for their sector (we can work on cross sector talent mobility next!)
  2. Employers write job postings using the skills and competency framework
  3. Post secondary education designs courses and programs using the skills and competency framework
But that was over a year ago and we’ve learned a lot since then. We’ve learned that most employers (across all sectors and no matter the size of organization) find workforce planning challenging. Most lack the capability to undertake strategic workforce planning and almost all lack the capacity to do it effectively. One large, national financial services organization we spoke with shared that it had taken them so long and it consumed so much resource to develop a workforce plan for ONE of their divisions that they’d simply put on hold any further workforce planning activity. 

Why does this matter? It matters because effective workforce planning is essential in providing supply side agents in the Canadian labour market, such as post secondary institutions, with the information they need to develop the talent required within a realistic time frame.

It also matters because any hope of bringing employers together to co-design a skills and competency framework is largely driven by their workforce planning. So, what now?

Like all good (seeking to be great) start ups, we’re going to come at the problem a different way. We’re going back to the basics. How are we doing that? We are going to invest in developing a solution to rapidly and rigorously improve the flow of workforce planning data between employer and talent sources such as universities and colleges. We start today. 

If you are an employer and want to find out more or simply follow along, contact us today at with ‘Back to Basics’ in the Subject Line or subscribe to our Newsletter on our website. 

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