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Recruit, Retain, Retrain: Workforce planning in Wakefield

Glynn Humphries, Wakefield Council’s Corporate Director for Environment, Communities and Climate Change, talks future workforce needs; the gaps in recruitment and the best ways to go about filling them. 

Recruitment and retention is a major issue faced by many public sector organisations right now. We are, as are all councils across the country, seeing the pool of applicants reducing in all areas across the Council. And we know we need to develop and retain capable and skilled employees to be able to build resilience to deliver our objectives now and in the future. 

Changes need to be made sooner rather than later to avoid a recruitment crisis. So, what can we do to tackle this issue? 

You can no longer assume that working in local government is ‘a job for life’. We need to make our opportunities interesting and make sure employees are part of the journey. 

We need to look at what our future workforce needs are, identify the gap between the present and the future and put in place actions to ‘mind the gap’.  It’s about getting the right number of people, with the right skills, employed in the right place at the right time, at the right cost. Workforce planning can enable sustainable organisation performance through better decision making about the future people needs of the business.

Here in Wakefield, we’ve introduced some excellent workforce initiatives. We have career graded posts, to show our commitment to developing employees right from the start of their journey, the offer for degree courses through the Apprenticeship Levy, flexible and hybrid working policies to support work life balance and excellent terms and conditions including generous annual leave allowance. 

We certainly don’t have all the answers but we want to have a go at getting it right. We know we need to do more and we’re ambitious to do even better.

Next, we’re looking to introduce graduate schemes and are exploring a structured coaching culture – right the way through the organisation. We’re also exploring structured mentoring programmes, to guide and support staff through their journey, and looking at how we can continue to maximise the Apprenticeship Levy. 
Do not sit back and expect talented and skilled people to come and find you. We must all be working to sell what we are and position ourselves as an ‘employer of choice’. So go out there and sell your organisation – create a brochure, fully contribute to job fairs and revise job descriptions to show people what your organisation can offer them. 

We can no longer assume that staff will be here for life, but we need to make sure that jobs are fulfilling and interesting so that people want to stay and develop with us, and rebrand ourselves away from being ‘just the council’.

Find opportunities to sell your organisation as a great place to work and ensure that your working practices, employee benefits and development opportunities are clear to all potential applicants. 

We all should explore supporting our own residents and children within our responsibility as an organisation. Let’s invest in the people we care for and create opportunities. We need to develop and create a learning culture for all.

We also need explore multi-skilling our employees and creating transferrable skills. 

I already know that Wakefield is a really great place to work and I hope this has shown you a little of what we have to offer too. This is another example of grabbing all the opportunities you can. And I hope this encourages others to come and see what we’ve got here in Wakefield. 

Glynn delivered a presentation on this topic at the APSE Full Association Online Meeting on 21 January. To download the presentation click here. 


Promoting excellence in public services

APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) is a not for profit unincorporated association working with over 300 councils throughout the UK. Promoting excellence in public services, APSE is the foremost specialist in local authority frontline services, hosting a network for frontline service providers in areas such as waste and refuse collection, parks and environmental services, cemeteries and crematorium, environmental health, leisure, school meals, cleaning, housing and building maintenance.






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