The first problem I had was discovering what the " National Industry Skills Council" was. It was easy enough to find the tool itself, but there is no link from the tool home page to the organisation sponsoring it, nor is the name of the organisation in the text of the web page. It took several web searches to realise that I should be looking for the "National Industry Skills Committee", not "Council" (as listed on the e-learning forum program).
The next problem was working out what the tool did. The login page just says:
This web-based tool comprises a series of dynamic and interactive screens, which enable the user to enter basic information about their organisation to receive summary details about potential factors impacting on their workforce.This could be a generic description of just about any computer program. What sort of information do you enter about your organisation? What factors impacting on the workforce are reported? There did not seem to be any way to find out without registering.
The registration screen required the usual information and required entering visually displayed security text. There was no audio alternative to the visual code for people who couldn't see it, which may breech Australian disability legislation. Apart from that the application looked as though it would be reasonably accessible (although I did not conduct formal tests). Graphics can be switched off to speed the application and it looks like it would work well on a smartphone.
I filled in the registration form and an activation email arrived a minute or so later. The system then provided a little more information about what it was for:
The NISC Online Workforce Development Starter Tool is intended to assist enterprises and employers in planning for the skills needs of their future workforce. ...More useful for an overview of the application was the well designed menu:
HomeHowever, it was still not clear to me why I should type information about my company into this system, if I could trust the people providing the system, or what I would get out of it. But as my company has only one employee (me) I felt I had little to be lost. ;-)
What Things Affect My Workforce?
My Current Workforce
If I Change Nothing, Where am I Heading?
My Workforce Concerns
My Desired Future Workforce
My Potential Workforce Gaps
Good Practice Recommendations
Print My Workforce Report
A My Organisation page then asks for some details about the organisation's employees. This is easy enough to fill in, except for the occupations, which are selected from an excessively long pull down menu. This would be very difficult to fill in for a large organisation. Saving the page takes a few seconds.
Then a What Things Affect My Workforce? page is displayed. This lists a series of issues which might be considered. You then check a box to remove the irrelevant ones. An example is:
Impacts of Globalisation on Skill Demand: The rise of the global economy has meant that companies are not only increasingly competing for customers the world over but are also competing for resources that may originate anywhere in the world, including skilled staff. Australia’s powerful skilled migration program is an example of this global competition. By 2006, the Federal Government had increased the number of skilled migration visa places available nine times consecutively over the period from 1998/99 to 2006/07. Department of Immigration and Citizenship Statistics ...The "click to remove" interface was a little unnatural and I found myself click the items I wanted. The bottom of the screen offered to print a customised report (presumably of the selected items) or downloading an Australian Workforce Environment Report (whatever that is).
The next screen was "My Current Workforce ・Overview", which allowed the qualifications and current training opportunities of the staff to be entered. At this point I started to see what the application was for. It seems to be well designed for leading someone through the process of assessing the training needs of their staff. Also I noticed that the steps I was being taken through were the same and the same sequence as the menu, which is useful.
I decided to skip to the end and produced a "My Workforce Report". One problem is that the menu item is labelled "Print My Workforce Report", but I didn't want to print the report, just generate an electronic document. In any case that is what the menu option did: generating a reasonably formatted web page suitable for printing. The report could be improved by removing the excessive formatting so it could be copied and pasted into a word processor or a web based system. It looks a little odd with blog formatting, but is still readable:
Tomw Communcations Pty Ltd Ltd Workforce Development Report
04 Nov 2008
|Factors Potentially Impacting on the Tomw Communcations Pty Ltd workforce:
|An important step in considering your future workforce requirements is understanding the environment in which your organisation operates and the factors and issues which may impact on your organisation's future.
|Given the information which you entered in the online Workforce Development Starter Tool, the following factors have been identified as potentially impacting on the Tomw Communcations Pty Ltd.
|Tomw Communcations Pty Ltd may wish to consider how or if these factors are likely to affect the Tomw Communcations Pty Ltd future workforce.
|Tomw Communcations Pty Ltd Current Workforce
|Based on the information you entered in the online tool, a profile of the current Tomw Communcations Pty Ltd workforce is presented below.
|Current Qualification Profile
|Current Occupations Employed
|If Tomw Communcations Pty Ltd change nothing where are they heading?
|Based on the turnover and the recruitment details that you entered in the online tool, the following presents a broad indicative forecast of where your organisation could be heading over the next 1,3 and 5 years based on the scenario 'if I change nothing'.
|Tomw Communcations Pty Ltd Desired Future Workforce
|There are no absolutes when considering what will happen ‘tomorrow’ – be it in one, three or five years time. However preparation is the key to maximising options and minimising risks. Tomw Communcations Pty Ltd has identified the following profile for its desired future workforce.
|Future Qualification Profile
|Future Special skills and level of capability within Tomw Communcations Pty Ltd will be:
|Future Occupations Employed:
|Future Demographic/Employment Profile
|Tomw Communcations Pty Ltd Future Workforce Gaps
|A comparison of the Tomw Communcations Pty Ltd current workforce and its desired future workforce reveals that your preferred future includes the following key changes.
|Workforce Profile Changes
|Desired Change in Skills and Competencies
|Good Practice Recommendations
|Based on the workforce concerns or issues that Tomw Communcations Pty Ltd has identified, you may be interested in reviewing the following workforce strategies and practices being implemented by some organisations.