Strategies to mitigate workforce gaps and risks

The purpose of strategic workforce planning is to enable an agency to identify and prioritise investment in the types of strategies it needs to address capacity and capability issues.

This section discusses the types of strategies agencies are using.

Strategies to address workforce gaps identified in workforce plans

Agencies that reported they had a documented workforce plan in 2012–13 were asked to list up to three strategies/initiatives they are pursuing to address key workforce gaps.

These strategies were identified from the information provided:

  • targeting talent management for EL and SES employees and identifying the current strength of the leadership cadre to establish a baseline
  • improving recruitment and retention strategies
  • integrating workforce planning into business planning
  • improving graduate programs and participating in whole-of-government ICT recruitment and development programs
  • building workforce capability by promoting innovation, adaptability, agility and responsiveness as key workforce capabilities
  • improving training strategies, including internal skills development programs, and basing employee development discussions on the 70–20–10 learning and development model.16

Strategies to overcome skill shortages

This year, agencies were asked to identify the three most effective strategies they had adopted to address skill shortages. Figure 6.7 shows the top five strategies used to do so in 2012–13. The two most frequently cited were strategies for investing in the learning and development of the existing workforce through in-house programs (55%) and improving retention or culture (53%).

Only 11% of agencies considered strategies aimed at reducing the demands for skills through redesigning business processes or job redesign, although such a strategy may be an effective response if shortages are enduring. Overall, the results presented here suggest agencies used a limited range of strategies to address skill shortages in 2012–13. This result is consistent with previous years and highlights the work still needed to establish a mature workforce planning capability across the APS.

Figure 6.7 Strategies used by agencies to address skill shortages, 2012–13

Figure 6.7 is a bar chart showing the strategies reported by most agencies to address skill shortages were investment in learning and development of existing workforce through in-house programs (55%) and strategies aimed at improving retention or culture (53%).

Source: Agency survey


In relation to the occupations of accounting and finance, people and ICT, agencies were asked to identify the specific strategies they were using to address skills shortages within each occupation. The top six strategies being used for these occupational groups were more targeted:

  • talent and succession management programs
  • leveraging professional networks
  • establishing a baseline of skills and capabilities
  • specialist recruitment rounds
  • on-the-job training
  • partnering with professional accounting body to build skills and knowledge.

Agencies were also asked to indicate if the retention strategies they used in relation to these occupations had improved retention: 42% reported that their strategies had improved retention and 46% reported that their strategies had partially improved retention.


16 The 70-20-10 principle of program design identifies that development is most effective when it combines structured on-the-job learning (around 70%), network or relationship-based learning (around 20%) and formal learning (around 10%).