PgCert Strategic Workforce Planning

Course summary

Workforce planning is now recognised as one of the key areas of development within health and social care. People sitting aroung a table in a meetingEffective workforce planning not only benefits good patient care, but can play an important role in supporting the health and social care sectors to meet their service and productivity targets through ensuring that the 'right people are in the right jobs at the right time'.

For workforce planning to be effective, it is important to have people with the right skills who can efficiently deliver this crucial work in the health and social care sectors.

Why choose this course?
The Postgraduate Certificate in Strategic Workforce Planning has been developed in response to the increasing demand for specific training and education of those who are involved in workforce planning. Until recently the provision of workforce planning training and education at a national level has been limited.

Demands from service highlighted the need to:

  • integrate the workforce planning function with service and finance
  • focus on long term strategic planning
  • enable a consistency of approach; raise the profile of and improve perception of the role of workforce planning.

This course will support you to think critically about your role as a workforce planner and the strategic workforce planning requirements of your organisation. You will reflect upon a wide range of influences on workforce planning, critically analyse relevance to current service provision and service improvement in your workplace and demonstrate your ability to draw upon this learning to enhance skills in practice. The course will incorporate a strong emphasis on ‘action learning’; that is in addressing the specific problems, challenges and issues which staff encounter in the workplace and you will complete a workbased project to address some of these issues.

Male nurse

Course Timetable:
Induction workshop 28 Feb 2018

Workshop 18 and 19 April 2018

Workshop 2 4 and 5 July 2018

Workshop 3 12 and 13 Sept 2018

Workshop 29 and 30 Nov 2018

Attendance at all workshops is a requirement of the course.

Tutor Information
This course is run by the Centre for the Study of Policy and Practice in Health and Social Care (CSPP) to provide you with both the high-quality teaching and the personal attention you need to make the most of your University education.

You will learn from highly skilled staff, many of whom conduct cutting-edge research in their specialist areas, ensuring that your period of study is both challenging and rewarding.

CSPP teaching staff includes:

Andy Knapton who is a Maths and Statistics graduate with over 14 years’ experience in healthcare workforce modelling. He initially started in healthcare workforce at the NHS Workforce Review (WRT) and then the Centre for Workforce Intelligence. Whilst at WRT, Andy developed the medical workforce supply forecasts for each specialty. A summary of these models was then used in the annual risk assessment report, which helped inform the Department of Health and SHA planning decisions.

Andy has worked with the University of West London in the development and delivery of the existing Introduction to Workforce Planning course, which has been run throughout England. He works within the Education and Standards Directorate of the GMC, working on analysis of medical recruitment outcomes and the annual National Trainee Survey. He has worked with a University of North Carolina to develop an open source model of the supply and demand of physicians in the US for the next 20 years. Andy has worked with HEE in the analysis of migration of healthcare graduates and worked with HE North West London on the analysis of the 2014 GP Practice.

Deirdre Kelley-Patterson is an organisational psychologist with over 30 years’ experience as a senior academic with responsibility for managing academic, research, small business and policy units. She is skilled in the design, development and management of a large number of workforce programmes including the national Postgraduate Certificate in Strategic Workforce Planning, Introduction to Workforce Planning, Advanced Workforce Data Analysis and Utilising Competences in Workforce Design and Education Commissioning.

She commissions and markets the NHS England Benchmarking Database and the safe staffing tool for community nursing workforces. Deirdre works with Collaboration for Leadership in Applied health Research and Care Northwest London (CLAHRC) to develop and deliver their MSc in Improvement Science. As a work based learning fellow of the University she works with a range of NHS and social care organisations to develop negotiated work based learning programmes.

Keith Hurst has 40 year’s NHS experience, most recently as an academic specialising in health and social care workforce planning and development (WP&D). He edits the International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance and publishes widely on health and social care policy and practice issues.

Working as an independent researcher and analyst, Keith has an extensive national and international portfolio including:

  • compiling and maintaining the NHS England Benchmarking Database
  • multidisciplinary WP&D in neglected disciplines like Emergency Departments and operating theatres with the Scottish Executive
  • collaborating with several agencies like the Shelford Group and Safer Care Team to create nursing-workforce metrics. 

What our students say

The course is consistently highly evaluated.  Summary themes from our last two intakes (2016) include high satisfaction with:

  • Course content: 
    • Particularly the long term/horizon scanning focus
    • Opportunity to build a ‘real’ plan which is of immediate relevance to a work organisation,
    • Chance to think strategically 
  • Good support offered in terms of reading lists, quantity/quality feedback on assignments, study skills and peer support.  The course culture is one of ‘adult learning’ and respected the contribution that can be made by experienced, adult learners
  • Assessment: though demanding these offered a valuable space to reflect and work on important issues
  • Standard of teaching and excellent external speakers with a national and international reputation.
  • Use of the Six Step planning framework to support service centred, structured and systematic workforce planning
  • Networking opportunity particularly across regions and countries. 

Course detail

Studying with us
The Centre for the Study of Policy and Practice in Health and Social Care at the University of West London has developed this course to provide workforce planners with the skills, competences and knowledge to be truly effective in their role and support their work. It has been designed for workforce planners by workforce planners and is the first qualification of its kind.

close up of hands during a meeting

During the course will have access to a wide range of materials via the course Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and the University's extensive library and electronic facilities.

What modules will I study as part of my course? 
  • Context of Strategic Planning
  • Workforce Planning for Service Improvement
  • Leading Workforce Planning
Module details

The Context of Strategic Planning
This module considers the whole strategic service planning process, to help you to place workforce planning in a broader context. 

This module aims to:
  • Introduce current debates in the areas of health and social care policy and strategic service and workforce planning. 
  • Provide you with updates on relevant workforce policy and strategic initiatives, 
  • Provide opportunity to explore complex planning scenarios and to learn from the experiences of planners from the health, social care, voluntary and independent sectors.
Content includes: 
  • Developing Purpose, Mapping Context and Identifying Strategic Issues
    • Strategic planning process and perspectives
    • Developing statements of purpose for service/organisational change
    • Stakeholder analysis, communication and engagement
    • Contextual analysis: appraising the external and internal environment, deriving workforce priorities
  • Developing strategic workforce goals and performance management criteria
    • Moving from strategy to delivery
    • Identify future scenarios for service or organisation
    • Testing workforce goals against scenarios
    • Building strategy maps and developing performance dashboards
    • Developing operational workforce objectives from strategic goals
    • Integrating service, finance and workforce
  • Reviewing and developing strategy
    • Critiques of rational planning
    • Measuring performance where it matters
    • Budgetary controls
    • Information management strategy
Overall, the module will help you define where your region, organisation or service is today, explore the planning and development challenges of tomorrow, and identify a range of strategies to help organisations meet these challenges.

  • Project (initiation and establishment of strategic goals).
  • An individual report (scenario analysis and evaluation).
Workforce Planning for Service Improvement
This module draws on a number of interrelated areas in operational management, organisational theory, management theory and data management. Its focus is on the skills and practices managers and leaders need to achieve service improvements through workforce planning in the complex and dynamic environment of health and social care.

This module aims to:
Integrate service improvement theory and models with traditional (demand and supply) approaches to workforce planning.

Content includes:
  • Models of Strategic Workforce Planning
    • Alternative approaches to workforce planning and flexibility
    • Modelling tools and the critical assessment of data, 
    • Demand and supply assumptions and issues
    • Capacity planning 
    • Risk analysis and analytical skills
  • Information and knowledge management
    • Data sources -knowledge of other data sources (ie: independent and voluntary sector), understanding of data sources, L.M.I, demographics)
    • Uses - communication and presentation of data, forecasting and projections, examples of modelling, research and critical appraisal 
    • Quality – improving data quality, data handling, data interpretation, and data manipulation. 
    • Options appraisal
    • Draw appropriate and well-founded conclusions and make cost effective, viable and ethical recommendations that deliver measurable business benefits
    • Critically appraising workforce planning information
    • Developing better workforce metrics 
  • Organisational Development
    • Impact assessment of workforce plans, 
    • Systems approaches
    • Continuous Improvement
    • Organisational learning
    • Complexity science
  • Service improvement through effective planning
    • Improvement science strategies
    • Improvement tools and techniques: LEAN, Process mapping and reengineering, benchmarking, cost benefits, benefits realisation
    • Creative thinking and activating change
    • New ways of thinking
    • New ways of working
    • The link with training and development.
  • Project (analysis of supply and demand; options generation and appraisal).
  • Individual report (critical evaluation of your planning project).
Leading Workforce Planning
This module explores the notion of leadership and change management. You will assess your own personal strengths and weaknesses as a leader, change agent and developer of others. Using feedback from a range of self-assessment exercises and work-based appraisal, you will craft a personal development plan, and design and test a series of activities to build your strengths and address your weaknesses.

The module aims to:
  • Question the nature of leadership and begin to define the skills needed to meet the complex aims of modern health and social care provision. 
  • Explore a range of change management techniques and apply those to workforce planning. 
  • Develop a critical analysis of own practice with a view to increasing your influencing capacity and effectiveness. 
  • Encourage a reflective approach to practice.
Content includes:
  • Leadership and development strategies
    • Ways of understanding leadership. 
    • Leadership over the last century and changing perceptions of 'management' and 'leadership'.
    • Transactional and transformational leadership, 'coping' management, managing meaning and values. 
    • Complexity science and leadership. 
    • Issues of power and identity in leadership
    • Influence in complex adaptive systems.  
    • Collaboration and leadership, leading teams, groups and networks. 
  • Activating change
    • Developing an understanding of organisational culture and how it influences
    • How organisations and services respond to change. 
    • The role of individual change agents and the notion of pre-conditions for change. 
    • Concepts of embedding change and ways to analyse and work with stakeholders. 
    • Sustainability, emergence, engagement and ideas developed from complexity science. 
  • Project: Critical evaluation of leadership styles and change management strategies
  • Personal development plan.

Entry requirements

You should have one of the following:

  • a first degree from a UK higher education institution (university or college). Normally this would be at 2.1 or above
  • an NVQ level 5
  • a professional qualification – eg: CIMA, ACCA, CIPD. This qualification should have been achieved through an examination or assessed route rather than nomination or reputation
  • a degree or other qualification from a non-UK institution which is comparable in level. The University will require a NARIC certificate to demonstrate equivalence
  • In exceptional circumstances, experienced planners without this level of qualification will be admitted to the course. In this situation, an application supported by mapping of experience to level 6 SEEC indicators and submission of a recently written work based report will be required. This report should demonstrate both a sound grasp of key policy issues and an ability to analyse, synthesise and evaluate complex ideas.

Additional criteria
You must be working for a health or social care organisation and be sponsored by your line manager or organisational workforce lead. You will need to secure agreement that you can be released to attend all study days.

An essential element of the course is completion of a workforce plan. This should be discussed with line manager or workforce lead prior to attending the induction workshop.

You must not be registered on another course whilst enrolled on this course.

Completion of the University's Post-Graduate course form
This will include submission of a personal statement. The personal statement should include:

  • reasons for applying for the course
  • what the student hopes to achieve from the course/future career aspirations.

International entry criteria

International students need to meet our English language requirement at either IELTS at 7.0 or above, and a minimum of 7.0 for each of the 4 individual components (Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening).

In some countries where teaching is in English, we may accept local qualifications. Please visit to check for local equivalencies.

We offer pre-sessional English language courses if you do not meet these requirements. Find out more about our English Language courses


Fees for home and EU students

Main fee


A range of loans, bursaries and scholarships are available to help you fund your studies.

Students on some Masters courses may be eligible to apply for a Postgraduate Loan of up to £10,000 as a contribution towards their course and living costs. Find out how to apply for a Postgraduate Loan on GOV.UK

Other loans available to postgraduate students include Professional and Career Development Loans, which also allow you to borrow up to £10,000.  Find out more about Loans on GOV.UK

Additional funding is available to some types of students, such as disabled students. Find out more about funding opportunities

Within the university, we offer a range of scholarships and bursaries. In the 2017 - 18 academic year, they included:

  • The William Brake Bursary: a £1,000 award for candidates on undergraduate or postgraduate degree courses
  • The Mollie Clay Scholarship: a £2,500 scholarship awarded to an outstanding student
  • Exclusive alumni discounts: a £2,000 discount on taught postgraduate courses or a 10% discount on research courses, exclusive to students who graduated from the University of West London.

Other scholarships are also available, including awards for specific subjects. Find out more and check your eligibility.

Please note fees are paid for each year of study unless otherwise stated. You will be required to re-enrol and pay fees at the beginning of each academic year. Fees may be subject to government regulations on fee increases. Future inflationary increases will be applied to each subsequent year of the course, subject to government regulations on fee increases.

How to apply

Apply for this course

UK and EU students

You can apply for most of our Postgraduate Certificates, Postgraduate Diplomas and Masters’ Degree courses using our online application system.  Simply click the red ‘apply now’ button above.

Your application will be dealt with by our Admissions team who will be in touch with you.

If you are applying for a research degree (MPhil or PhD), you will need to submit: a CV, research proposal, transcript of academic qualifications and online application form.  Full details of how to apply for research degrees

International students

To apply for a Masters’ Degree course, please complete our online application form for international students or you can download the print version (Word, 186kb).

You can also review the relevant information about the qualifications we accept from your country and our English language requirements, as well as details about your visa application.

If you are applying for a research degree (MPhil or PhD), you will need to submit: a CV, research proposal, transcript of academic qualifications and online application form.  Full details of how to apply for research degrees

More about the application process for international students.

More about how to apply for postgraduate courses.


During the course

Teaching staff

Associate lecturers

  • Keith Hurst
  • Andy Knapton

Course lecturer

What our students say

Digby Ingle, Senior Coordinator Health and Social Care, West London Lifelong Learning Network

‘I have gained so much from doing the course; it provided compressed insight into workforce processes. I really enjoyed doing the assignments (perverse I know!) and the ability to directly tie them in with ‘in vivo’ projects was great.’

Julie Sherwood, Workforce Information Manager, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Trust

‘Having been out of study mode for 20+ years, I was initially concerned with the level of study required. However, I have found the academic elements of the course to be very closely aligned to my day-to-day work and time spent studying now will reap benefits for me and my Trust long term. UWL and Workforce Projects Team staff have all been supportive, and the standard of the workbooks/ study guides are well designed and thought out. The networking side of the course has been invaluable to me, and I hope this continues long after our graduation.’

Kate Thomas, Head of Workforce Development, NHS Lanarkshire

‘The context module is just great, I have always loved learning and my mind buzzes with some of the things we are covering. I am now really pleased that I had the chance to do this course and love the brain stretching that I am getting.’

Jobs and placements

Career and study progression

As a result of completing the Postgraduate Certificate in Strategic Workforce Planning, you will have increased workforce planning capability and capacity. The benefits for organisations include:

  • gaining the underlying knowledge and skills and the supporting tools and resources for effective strategic workforce planning
  • better decision-making
  • improving patient, client and user-centred care
  • increased confidence in workforce planning for organisations and the Department of Health.