wp-Graphic_Maren Frerichs
Skills Active – using data to engage with industry

Workforce scanning and development is a key role that Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) undertake.  Skills Active Aotearoa, the ITO for the recreation, sport and exercise industries released a comprehensive Workforce Scan late last year.  The workforce scan was led by Maren Frerichs, General Manager of Industry Engagement at Skills Active.  Shaun Twaddle, Infometrics Director, had a chat with Maren to find out why they put together the workforce scan and how they went about it.

Shaun: Why do you think workforce scans are important for ITOs?

Maren: To fulfil our role as leaders of workforce development for our industries, ITOs need to be able to provide our stakeholders with the key information they need to know about their industries both now and in the future and present this in a way that will be both valued and understood.

The information is critical for us too. By developing and maintaining a clear picture of our landscape, we make more informed decisions about where to invest our time and resources to best meet the needs of our industries.

Our Workforce Action Plan, which appears at the end of our Workforce Scan draws clear links between the specific issues identified through the research, and the tasks we’ve set ourselves to tackle those issues.

Shaun: How did you develop your workforce scan?

Maren: We built our workforce scan using the detailed quantitative data in the Infometrics Sector Profiles.  This provided us a robust foundation which we supplemented with a comprehensive survey across our industries. 

We fleshed the quantitative data provided by Infometrics with adding interviews and research from a range of industry sources, as well as expert commentary from our in-house industry specialists.

Our industry engagement team engages with industry to understand workforce needs, including skill development and training needs of the industry. The intelligence we gain from through these channels plays a critical part in us being able to effectively provide information and advice to our stakeholders, through tools like the workforce scan. 

Shaun: How did the Infometrics Sector Profiles inform this?

Maren: The Infometrics profiles provided the basis for our national and regional data, including our range of infographics which have been popular with readers of the scan as well as our social media channels. The Infometrics profiles also helped to inform the direction of our research, surveys and commentary. 

Shaun: What benefits do you see the workforce scan providing your industries?

Maren: The scan gives organisations, employers, managers and staff in our industries robust information about their industries in a bite-sized, easy-to-read form. It addresses the questions that our stakeholders are asking us: 

  • What does my industry workforce look like? 
  • How well is it functioning? 
  • What are the threats to my ability to recruit and retain staff? 
  • What are the shared strengths of my industry? 
  • Am I capitalising on these in the way I manage my workforce? 
  • Is my experience similar to that of my peers and competitors? 
  • What is on the horizon that I need to be thinking about?

Shaun: How do you plan on keeping the workforce scan current and relevant?

Maren: We will update the scan annually.  Each update will require reviewing and updating our data based on the latest profiles and, equally as important, completing a wide-ranging survey of our industries to determine the most pressing influences happening in their world. 

We are looking to establish a number of Industry Advisory Groups in 2017 and 2018 to provide oversight and expert advice around the issues that are highlighted through the scans and to identify and champion workforce solutions to these. These groups will add value to the existing process we have in place to engage with industry and ensure that our narrative is current and relevant. 

Shaun: What advice would you give to someone thinking about developing a workforce scan?

Maren: Get all your ducks in a row: have clear goals and a detailed plan. Genuinely consult with your industries to understand what interests them, what worries them, what they need to know. And try to think of the things they may want but not necessarily instantly say they need to know. Without real buy-in from the people that will be reading your scan – you won’t be able to truly add value. 

Make sure you have a good breadth of quantitative and qualitative data. Facts are great but people want to hear about real-life experiences. They wonder if the things that keep them awake at night are keeping others awake as well – and what those others are doing about it.

Bear in mind that your information must be detailed, clear, and have complete integrity. Writing, editing and designing a rock-solid scan is a big job so ensure you have allowed the right timeframe and resources for the project.

We thank Maren Frerichs for taking the time to share what Skills Active have been up to and her views on workforce scans and development.  To read the Skills Active Workforce Scan 2017, please see here.

The Infometrics Sector Profiles that Maren referred to in the above interview provide a wealth information on user defined industries and sector via our interactive and easy to use web-platform.  The Sector Profiles have just been updated with new data include employment forecasts out to 2021.  For more information click here.

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