By McGill Reporter Staff
While the Workforce Planning Initiative launched May 1 is partly a response to government-mandated reduction in universities’ administrative and support staff through voluntary attrition, it also represents an opportunity for units to shape changes in the way work is done at McGill, Principal Heather Munroe-Blum told Senate on May 16.
Under Quebec’s Bill 100, universities will be permitted to replace only one of every two voluntary staff departures – by retirement or resignation — over at least the next two years. Exceptions to that rule would involve mainly support for front-line student services, she said.
In the near term, the resulting savings could help address projected shortfalls in the annual budget and avoid, to the extent possible, any involuntary attrition, Munroe-Blum noted.
In the longer run, Workforce Planning is intended to serve as a positive means to help faculties and units find new ways to manage change, she said. A “developmental” component of the initiative will be designed to help unit heads and managers plan effectively for their future workforce requirements.
For employees, this may provide an opportunity to improve skills, or the possibility of shifting to a different job better suited to their existing skills and career aspirations. For managers, it provides a chance to make sure work is handled in the best way possible, perhaps even dispensing with some tasks that are no longer relevant or particularly useful.
The Senate meeting – its last of the 2011-12 academic year – took place amid continued uncertainty over how the Quebec government’s months-long standoff with boycotting college and university students would play out.
Some compromise measures offered by the government in recent weeks may well form part of an eventual resolution to the dispute over tuition increases. But the idea of a provisional oversight council for universities – one element in of a failed tentative pact between the government and student associations — would be “unacceptable” to McGill, Munroe-Blum said, since it would undercut the university’s autonomy in setting academic priorities. The University already answers to Quebec and Ottawa through a series of “arduous” reporting mechanisms, she added.
Munroe-Blum also provided an overview of her recent trip to Brazil, where she participated in a higher education mission organized by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and led by Governor General David Johnston. During the trip, Munroe-Blum signed four new partnership agreements with Brazilian universities. McGill researchers already have established more than 50 collaborations with Brazilian colleagues in areas as diverse as biofuels, engineering, dentistry and information technology. The new agreements are designed to enhance training and research opportunities for students at all levels of study and to promote further collaborations between faculty members from the two countries.
For more information on the Workforce Planning Initiative go to http://www.mcgill.ca/hr/workforce-planning