Sunday, July 13, 2008

Victorian public library workforce planning report

A new report is out - Workforce Sustainability and Leadership: Survey, Analysis and Planning for Victorian public libraries. The report is available from:

I am part way through and found it quite interesting - although I am not sure it thinks about what solutions we in libraryland need to take responsibility for in this time of great competition for staff. The report alleges that we have an aging workforce (not comparing their data to historical data or other professions). I would say that many libraries (like other organisations, particularly research organisations) have an older workforce than in the fast food industry or some other organisations. I am not sure that our age profile has changed dramatically in the last couple of years, but I am confident that our desire for those with considerable experience in the industry, particularly at manager level, means that we won't be likely to have a predominance of teenagers. Regional employment also has many challenges and the younger members of the community continue to be attracted to cities, an ongoing challenge.

The question that is in my mind after reading much of the report is how much we need to take responsibility for developing staff. If we can't attract people with extensive experience to lower level positions as many of these (particularly from the study professionals and those with tertiary education) then we need to recognise that we will have people with less experience who will be retained and productive when offered proper learning and development opportunities, much of which will be in-house. The skills we can provide have application beyond any particular library - customer service skills and communication are fundamental to most jobs and are in demand for those who wish to travel and work overseas. Other research (such as the APS state of the service) has identified offering skill development and a key benefit from the perspective of employees - perhaps some best practice examples should be shared to help us all be more effective in this area?