Page 4: Workforce planning
Workforce planning is the process of assessing a company”s current and future labour needs. The British Gas Academies must consider not just overall employee numbers but also the skills that will be required within the business. Workforce planning also involves managing any training and recruitment process to ensure the organisation has the right staff in place.
Managers at British Gas conduct a programme of forecasting to predict how much the UK market for domestic gas engineering services will grow. This helps the company decide how many additional engineers it will need in the future. British Gas makes detailed forecasts of its demand for engineering personnel for one year in advance and makes more general estimates for a further two years into the future.
Factors affecting workforce planning
At British Gas, workforce requirements are driven by two different demands. First, there are contract customers that have service agreements with the company. Second, there are customers who call for one-off assistance if they have a specific problem. Demand for both these services has grown. In the last three or four years, the need for engineers has expanded accordingly. This has meant that it has had to recruit more staff.
There are several other factors that influence workforce planning for British Gas. Engineering skills need to be constantly updated. Health and safety issues are also critically important in the gas industry. Health and safety regulations are changing all the time and EU regulations must also be considered. Apart from regular formal training to close skills gaps to ensure engineers stay up to date with technical matters, British Gas can alert engineers about technical changes via field radio or text messaging.
Engineers can work all their careers in the field until they retire. Qualified engineers may spend up to 10 years gaining their skills, qualifications and experience. They have valued practical skills that are needed to deal with equipment and customers.
However, British Gas also needs suitable people for promotion to higher roles, such as management jobs. It needs managers to plan, organise and co-ordinate the teams of engineers. It therefore needs to attract and recruit a wide range of people into the organisation.