Talent, succession and careers

Our research into employer practice and our international consulting experience lay the foundations of our approach to talent and succession management and career development in organisations.

We support employers in:

  • reviews, audits or diagnostic work to identify key areas for improvement;
  • strategy development and communication, often with key stakeholders;
  • implementation, including the training of HR professionals, line managers and employees; and
  • policy and process design, informed by research on a wide range of practices.

We also study careers in particular sectors and occupations to inform government, the education system, employer bodies and professions. This keeps us in touch with a wide range of career issues and trends, including how employers find and nurture talent coming from the education system.

Read more about our work in specific areas below.

Talent Management

Our work on talent management often focuses on identifying those with the potential to meet future needs. These include graduates, potential leaders and managers those mid-career and, increasingly, also key professionals and those in ‘critical’ jobs which are hard to fill.

We look at recruitment ‘pipelines’, retention issues and how to empower and engage employees as well as developing them and then deploying them effectively.


  • help organisations identify their own ‘best fit’ practices and solutions;
  • integrate new talent, succession or career interventions with other people management practices; and
  • work closely with senior and line managers, as well as the HR function, to identify the issues and co-design solutions.

More widely we also work at a sectoral level to identify supply bottlenecks and alternative sources of potential recruits (see also our work on the graduate labour market and skill demand and utilisation).

Contact: Wendy Hirsh

Our work in this area

Succession planning

Succession planning focuses on identifying and developing those who are possible successors for key or critical posts or workforce groups.

We have found that managers often find ‘potential’ and ‘succession’ easier to work with than the abstract idea of ‘talent’. We therefore help knit person-led ideas of ‘talent’ together with work-led ideas of succession, to help managers and individuals see where opportunities might lie.

Contact: Wendy Hirsh

Our work in this area

Career development

Much of talent management and succession is really about careers: how individuals come into, through and out of organisations on their own unique career journeys.

We have particular expertise in researching and supporting the career development of managers, leaders and knowledge workers, including graduate entrants.

Contact: Alison Carter

Our work in this area

Careers information, advice and guidance (CIAG)

For young people (and older workers too), informed decisions about the changing world of work influence the effective acquisition of skills and entry into sustainable employment. Our research explores what influences career choices, and the effectiveness of public provision of advice and guidance for young people and adults. We have also tracked the transition of people from education into work and the early careers of graduates and professional groups.

Contact: Becci Newton

Our work in this area

IES experts

Rosie Gloster Emma Pollard Becci Newton Wendy Hirsh

Rosie Gloster
Senior Research Fellow

Emma Polard
Senior Research Fellow

Becci Newton
Deputy Director

Wendy Hirsh
Principal Associate


Podcast: Succession PlanningGood Practice logo

Wendy Hirsh, IES Principal Associate, was interviewed by GoodPractice about her current thinking and extensive practical experience of succession planning.

Listen to the podcasts:

Related projects

Talent Management
Plan International

Understanding the Customer Journey to Initial Teacher Training
National College of Teaching and Leadership, Department for Education

Council Succession and Talent Management Strategy
Birmingham City Council

Developing a Talent Management Strategy with the National Offender Management Service
National Offender Manager Service (NOMS)

Review of the National Careers Service area-based contract funding model
Skills Funding Agency (SFA)