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How can a skills inventory be used for strategic HR planning?

Strategic planning is critical to the success of any organization, and HR is an important component. Strategic planning involves analyzing the need for and availability of human capital in meeting the organization's goals and objectives. Creating and maintaining a skills inventory can assist HR in these efforts.

A skills inventory is a compilation of the skills, education and experiences of current employees. Organizations use these inventories to assess whether current staff can meet company goals. Understanding the company's pool of current skills/talents and future skill requirements aids in strategic planning efforts.  Below are a few areas where skills inventories contribute valuable information.  

Recruiting: Tracking the skills and abilities of current employees allows an organization to identify skills gaps that can be filled by outside applicants. These inventories help guide hiring decisions that will ensure management has the manpower necessary to meet the current and future needs of the organization.

Training: Skills inventories can also detect skills gaps for current employees and identify areas where skills need to be upgraded via training. This often happens when the introduction of new technology or processes keeps an organization competitive in a changing market. Knowing what training is needed allows employers to budget for and determine appropriate training programs.

Succession planning: Succession planning ensures that an organization has the right personnel to function in the event of a key employee's departure. Creating and maintaining current skills inventories contributes to succession plans by identifying high-potential employees, matching them for future openings and identifying training needed to prepare these employees for future success. 

Skills inventories should be reviewed on an ongoing basis, and employers should encourage employees keep their own skills inventories updated. By doing so, employers support the success of their strategic plans and achievement of their company's short- and long-term goals.


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