Key takeaways from the 2023 Strategic Workforce Planning Conference in Melbourne


The Workforce Planning Institute’s 2023 Strategic Workforce Planning Conference in Melbourne took place in December. This brought together a passionate group of like minded professionals, all with a common interest to explore how we might ensure we support our organisations to align business and workforce strategies to execute their priorities now and into the future.


A fantastic opportunity to connect, learn and dream about what is possible. 


Personally, I was blown away at the progress that has been made in the past 12 months and the maturity of this emerging function.


The diversity of presentations provided a comprehensive range of insights. Below are a few of the key points I found most interesting. It was very difficult to keep this to a minimum. 



Sally Capp AO, Lord Mayor of Melbourne


Designing for liveability to attract and retain a skilled workforce, particularly in growth areas such as education, health and innovation.

Vaughan Sheehan and Amanda Lovelock, BHP

Developing workforce plans that will be executed by the business by ensuring implementation budget exists, collaborating with subject matter experts and doing most of the ‘heavy lifting’ themselves.


Kanella Salapatas, QBE

Taking a holistic approach, piggy backing off business planning process and leveraging what is happening already and utilising data to develop a strategic workforce plan that is driven by the business, not HR.


Tony Hindmarch, Airforce and RAAF

How the Airforce achieves a sustained approach to strategic workforce planning that is feasible, achievable and affordable that saw continued recruitment throughout the pandemic, ensuring growth challenges are met now and into the future. Plus, the optimistic suggestion of a National Approach to workforce planning to grow capabilities and avoid cannibalisation. Such a wonderful dream Tony.


Susie Custerson, SEEK

Considering the future, how work will be done, critical roles and skills, technology’s role in creating jobs and how we utilise the abundance of data to meet business needs. Hybrid work is here to stay with ‘work from home’ being the highest searched parameter on their platform. A bottom-up approach to SWP through top-down sponsorship that is conducted quarterly rather than annually. Working collaboratively with the business to focus on ‘pace over perfection’.  


Jennifer Dobell and Rebecca Meynell, Victoria Department of Health

Conducting SWP in a complex environment with limited funding. Analysing data to determine the 15 critical roles that will be in short supply, anticipating pain points and developing new models to optimise the workforce.


Adam McKinnon, Reece Group

Understanding business problems to develop algorithms that can synthesize complex information and find patterns in data and find creative solutions.  


Dr Damian Oliver, Assistant Secretary (Workforce Futures), Jobs and Skills Australia

Explaining Jobs and Skills Australia’s (JSA) role and structure. Sharing key insights from the 2023 JSA Report which outlines the top 20 persistent skill shortages and the 14 opportunities for the Australian workforce and economy.


Melitta Hardenberg, Xero

A phased approach to capability at pace that provides consistency and clarity across the organisation to meet the business need. The design decisions that provided that guardrails, determining proficiency levels and sense making with the business.


Sadhana Bhide, Faethm by Pearson

Ensuring SWP aligns with business strategy and finding a balance between purpose, process and perspective. Calculating the return on investment of the 6Bs to engage business leaders and make more effective decisions that supports corporate sustainability, organisational culture and employee engagement. An unexpected link to Barbie.


Sarah Rogers and Maivi Nguyen, Deloitte


The challenge of finding the right questions to ask to solve the right problems. Exploring how the world of work is changing and what people are seeking to ensure climate readiness. Prioritising learning and internal mobility. Developing scenarios that stretch thinking across different time horizons. The growing need to determine how to record skills in portfolio careers. Leveraging technology for competitive advantage.


Sue Chamberlain-Ward, Sarah Logan and Jess Murphy

Opportunities for SWP in early learning, how we might change societal views on the profession, strengthen education pathways, provide wrap around support and build the pipeline into this critical sector. The limited skills and capabilities for SWP and the need for tools that can be applied at a local level, similar to aged care. The potential impact of policies such as skilled migration to fill gaps. 

Thanks Nick Kennedy for organising an amazing two days and for encouraging ongoing connection.

More to explore

A 21 year journey in Strategic Workforce Planning for the U.S. Air Force with Colonel Patrick J. White

Colonel Patrick J White of the US Airforce shares his 21 year career journey in strategic workforce planning for a workforce of around 700,000 people.
He explains the two frameworks through which his career has evolved. Starting in the demand side and then moving into supply, Patrick was able to take integrate both to provide a holistic view. Through this lens he is able to provide decision makers with meaningful insights to help them prioritise requests for additional people that can be around 22,000 per year.

Steering Leaders Towards a Sustainable Future with Annette Gray

Unlock a new perspective on leadership as Annette Gray, a leadership coach with a transformative approach to steering teams through the climate crisis, joins us to share her insights and experiences. Prepare to be inspired by Annette’s unique journey from shaping young minds as a high school teacher to nurturing the growth of senior leaders and advocating for environmental stewardship. Her work with Homeward Bound and an eye-opening expedition to Antarctica has solidified her commitment to sustainable living and highlighted the urgency for collective action in line with the United Nations’ sustainability goals.