Forecasting Future Skill Requirements


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You may recall that in Preparing to Purchase a Business we discussed the current labour force as a supply of employees in this area. The most successful companies will develop innovative new products from both customer and employee suggestions. New ideas may require new skills for the manufacture or selling of the products. A business that can train existing personnel and upgrade their skills supports a retention plan. When the business hires new people to provide skills not readily in place, there is a risk of a senior employee quitting. An individual may feel there is not a future with the company and feel like they are being passed over. The owner could anticipate this reaction and move proactively to discuss new hiring with employees before it occurs, effectively squelching the rumor mill and the risk of losing experienced personnel.

The vision for the company is usually to grow, and that vision will include additional workers to manage the growth. The ten-year job forecast indicates that highly trained personnel will be in demand and be expecting above average wages. The strategy of selecting people may be to hire the person with the least skills to do the job and then augment her skills through a robust training program. This will increase the candidate selection pool and likely attract people that would be satisfied to work for a more modest wage.

In general, companies try to hire the best qualified person, resulting in higher costs to attract more skills that may not be necessary to do the work. This situation can frustrate ambitious people who want to achieve their own goals.

When forecasting future skill requirements, keep in mind that there may be attrition of employees. Keep the vision of the future in place and be prepared to promote employees to fill vacancies. Plans to expand across new markets will need sufficient people to support new business.

Work BC’s Forecasting the Labour Market webpage includes the British Columbia 2022 Labour Market Outlook report, which you may find useful. The key point is with baby boomers retiring and expected liquid natural gas (LNG) projects ramping up, there may be challenges to hiring suitable employees (Work BC, 2012).