As organizations re-evaluate their staff and staffing plans to align with cost pressures and the current economic environment, there is a fair degree of media attention on unemployment and layoffs.

A sampling: C-Net’s tech layoff scorecard, CBC’s timeline of auto sector layoffs, and Federal projections of an overall unemployment rate of between 8.5% and 8.8% in 2009.

However, astute workforce planners understand that now is not the time to become complacent about the workforce and their organization’s future ability to attract and retain quality staff.

In fact, right now is an opportunity for entrepreneurial and insightful companies to capitalize on market conditions and recruit the kind of top quality staff that will be needed in years to come. C-Net’s “spreadsheet of sunshine” makes a great contrast to the layoff scorecard, and tells us that a number of high-profile tech companies have already recognized this. Big names such as Apple, Intel, Cisco, Facebook and are already targeting skilled staff like software engineers who are likely to be in high demand in coming years.

But it’s not just about software engineers. As highlighted in the “spreadsheet of sunshine” (I had to get that in one more time as it is uplifting), within the next few years demand will outstrip supply in a number of professions. Some employers will also be forced to woo staff with incentive bonuses, well-paid salaries, and good benefits packages. This is the case regardless of current unemployment trends.

It’s interesting to take a quick look at the types of occupations that are on the list. Ok, there are some obscure occupations, but a lot of them are also squarely in the mainstream. We have Accountants, Computer Software Engineers, Dental Hygienists, Elementary Teachers, Counselors, Nurses, Financial Advisors, and Environmental Science and Protection Technicians. Are any of these occupations in your company?

Here at Aruspex we think that the current environment is as good, if not better to get proactive and workforce plan your future workforce. With the right approach and tools, workforce planners can take advantage of the current economic climate to build a workforce that is better aligned to your company’s strategic needs. Our whitepaper, Making the Right Business Decisions in a Downturn, provides more tips about workforce planning in tough economic times.