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Trends set to impact HR over the next five years

Deloitte Access Economics research indicates the HR workforce will see stronger growth, spurred on by significant changes in the way we work. Due to increasing disruption in the workplace, the workforce is expected to see stronger growth than the Australian labour workforce broadly.

Workforces across every sector are experiencing significant technological and operational changes to the way in which they fundamentally work. These changes are putting immense pressure on HR professionals across the country, and more broadly around the world, to improve engagement with their staff and potential talent.

As a result, it is demanded of industry professionals to look outside the box for innovative methods and solutions. How can employers utilise emerging social platforms to engage employees better? How can employers help create flexible work environments that cater to an increase in freelance or contract staff, or population growth in regional and rural areas?

These challenges present some promising signs for those working in the HR sector, according to a new report by Deloitte Access Economics called The future of work: Occupational and education trends in human resources in Australia.

The Deloitte Access Economics research shows that the HR workforce is set to benefit greatly. Over the next five years, the sector at-large is expected to see strong growth and a high demand for HR skills, compared to the Australian labour workforce more broadly.

What will happen?

Deloitte Access Economics forecasting shows the relevant workforce will grow from 218,000 people in 2016/17 to 245,000 by 2021/22, which is an annual average growth of 2.3 per cent.

The industry is also set to be one of the best earners, with a forecast income for professionals with postgraduate qualifications in 2021/22 projected to sit at a healthy $160,132 per annum.

The Deloitte report revealed that the best employment opportunities lie in human resource management roles as well as policy and planning managers, human resource professionals, training and development professionals, and management and organisation analysts.

The Deloitte report reveals that there will be technological and workforce trends contributing to the growing demand for HR skills over the next five years.

New and disruptive technology

Dr Alan Montague, human resources academic at RMIT University, told Deloitte Access Economics that one of the critical drivers of demand for skills and qualifications is the significant technological change arising from artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

Considering the potential breadth of disruption caused by factors such as globalisation and changing labour markets, businesses across all industries will need more human resource professionals with change management and training skills to lead successful workplace transitions.

Ethical business practices

Increasing awareness of professional ethics and corporate responsibility amongst HR professionals are expected to drive growth in the HR sector. Interpersonal skills, such as communication and problem-solving skills. will be critical for success. More weight will be placed on human resource professionals to guide businesses through changes to organisational performance, governance and employment law.

Changing tools and resources

The availability of online and ‘on-demand’ open courses (MOOCs), educational podcasts and video tutorials has risen over the last few years – and will continue to do so. As such, corporate employee training must evolve to integrate or utilise these resources in a way that promotes a more self-directed approach to learning.

HR professionals will also need to be aware of emerging digital tools that are beginning to affect HR functions, which the Deloitte report highlights as key to “improving the employee experience, end-to-end talent management platforms integrated with payroll and performance systems, and the application of data analytics to improve employee engagement and retention.”

Can study prepare you for future change?

The Deloitte report refers to a recent AHRI Survey that found over half of its respondents believe they will need to study to prepare for impending changes in the workplace environment. Nine out of 10 HR professionals also expressed confidence that the ability to acquire skills to meet foreseeable challenges.

Postgraduate study in human resources can provide workers with opportunities to upskill across theory and practice, the Deloitte report also revealed. Online master’s programs are particularly flexible and convenient, designed for people with extensive industry experience who wish to update their knowledge of contemporary thinking while they continue to work full-time.


For more information about how to strengthen your HR skills and prepare for the future, contact RMIT University.

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