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Adapt and thrive – how to plan for the workforce market of the future

Technology, demographic and social changes are affecting the way the public sector attracts and retain talent.

This article originally appeared in the February / March 2021 edition of Public Sector Executive

Even before the events of the last 12 months, technology, demographic, and social changes were making it increasingly difficult for the public sector to attract and retain talent.

The combined effects of low unemployment rates, skills shortages, digital transformation, and pressure on accessing emerging talent meant a fluid work market where people could often move between roles quickly. The shock of 2020 and its cycle of lockdown, furlough, and reopening has changed everything.

We’re still coming to terms with what comes after the pandemic in terms of the employment landscape. As of December 2020, 9.9 million furlough claims had been made. Unemployment is rising, from 4% at the outset of the pandemic to 5% in the autumn.

According to Pertemps Managed Solutions, leading market analysts estimate there are 8 times more people applying for jobs than there were pre-COVID-19, and there are currently around 60-65% less jobs being advertised.

Rising unemployment could mean that the public sector is increasingly seen as a more secure and safe place to work. Although as skills shortages remain in many areas, the public sector will still need to work hard to attract and retain the right talent. 

Flexing your workforce strategy

In these uncertain times, having a structured and responsive recruitment strategy, alongside a well-planned programme to upskill your existing workforce and attract new talent, will ensure you are agile and resilient.

The right blend of temporary and permanent employees, including apprentices, is important.

It is reckoned that the contingent labour market grew by 1.9% between 2014 and 2019, and it was expected to grow another 2.6% by 2024. The primary reason for this is workers adopting more flexible working patterns.

Whilst the exact spend on contingent labour across the public sector is not known, it is estimated that, based on the number of full time equivalents currently working in the sector, it is about a third of the total market.

It’s too early to say how the events of the last 12 months will impact the public sector’s contingent labour market, but it is likely to only increase both the desire and the need for people to work remotely and flexibly in the long-term.

Adapt and thrive

If you haven’t already, it’s time to consider how the changing workforce environment will impact on your organisation in the long-term:

  • Increased flexibility and remote working are here to stay: ensure you have the right processes, policies and recruitment channels in place to attract new workers, onboard them remotely and capture robust data to support your future workforce planning – whether you are recruiting contingent workers or permanent employees.
  • Plan for the next generation: take the time to find the right training programme for your apprentices in a remote learning environment, and align your talent requirements with your strategic goals – this will help you identify the skills you need to grow and identify where your skills gaps lie.
  • Look at the whole: a programme of total talent management for both your permanent and contingent workforce will help your organisation be agile and resilient – increasing your ability to make your whole workforce visible, engaged, and connected to your corporate and recruitment strategies

Find out more

Crown Commercial Service’s Workforce whitepaper explores the ways in which you can rise to the opportunities and challenges of attracting and retaining talent in the public sector.

Whether these challenges are new to you or issues in which you are already well-versed, the crucial point is: what is your organisation going to do right now to rise to the challenge? How are you going to ensure your organisation can attract, retain and develop the talent you need and that you are agile and resilient as an employer? 

This is where CCS can help. Whatever your current position, CCS can take some of the pressure off and help you take the first steps towards improving your workforce planning – whether that is simply getting started with a preferred supplier list or helping you appoint a total talent management strategic partner.

You have the power to make better recruitment decisions for your organisation. Find out more about workforce solutions from CCS.

Download a complimentary copy of the CCS whitepaper


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