The UCAR proposal to manage NCAR, submitted to the National Science Foundation in 2007, stated that “UCAR will work with the NCAR Executive Committee to develop an overall Workforce Management Plan (WMP) as part of NCAR’s overall strategic planning process.” Indeed, one of UCAR’s highest management priorities is to recruit, develop, and retain a high-quality and broadly inclusive workforce for NCAR. The development of this plan and identification of issues does not imply that the current system is ineffective. UCAR has been honored as one of the Best Companies to Work for in Colorado (large company category—more than 200 employees) and first among nonprofits. However, any successful organization should engage in a process of self-reflection periodically in order to ensure that its workforce is nimble, responsive, and at the leading edge.
NCAR is a federally funded research and development center devoted to research, service, and education in the atmospheric and related sciences. NCAR conducts scientific research, operates observational and computational facilities for the science community, and develops and transfers technology and information products to interested users. Our primary sponsor and most important strategic partner is the National Science Foundation (NSF). NSF’s support is highly leveraged by funding provided by other government agencies. NCAR supports NSF’s mission by helping the United States attain a position of world leadership in science and technology, promoting the transfer of new knowledge to society, and contributing to excellence in science and technology education. NCAR is managed by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), a consortium of 75 member universities that offer PhDs in the atmospheric and related sciences. NCAR has a synergistic relationship with the UCAR member universities, who provide oversight and are one of the biggest users of our computational, modeling and observational facilities.
The WMP is intended to provide a roadmap that will allow NCAR to meet its short- and long-term objectives, consistent with its 2009-2014 Strategic Plan. It supports the “fabric” of NCAR while positioning the center to evolve with a goal of a vibrant and productive workforce that will play a leadership role for many years to come.
In creating strategies for an effective workforce, we conducted a scan of external factors that describes the environment in which we operate. Such factors include demographics of our potential workforce, especially in critical skills areas; projected labor trends such as staffing supply and demand; policies and compensation practices of our peer institutions; funding possibilities and constraints and needs shared by our external stakeholders.
A WMP also requires a snapshot of the organization’s current workforce. Demographics and expected retirement rates, employee satisfaction, compensation and benefits offerings, and current practices provide metrics to compare to our environmental scan. The plan then can identify areas where we can take corrective measures or where we can enhance our programs to optimize our workforce to meet the demands identified in the NCAR Strategic Plan.