Training for HR professionals has come along in bounds.
AHRI’s senior members recently identified the key HR issues for 2013 to be leadership development and culture, making diversity and inclusion a reality, sourcing and retaining talent, improving productivity and managing costs.
These issues remain at the heart of courses at Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM) and the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM).
Melbourne Business School now has Leading Organisational Change, Decision-Making for Leaders, and People and Performance; and Queensland University of Technology is offering Think Strategic: Adding Value To Vision, and Taming Wicked Problems, which tackles conflict management.
The raft of subjects reveals how diverse the role of HR has become.
Transforming how we work
The GFC and digital age have transformed the way we work. There is a higher expectation of skills and business knowledge, which has led to the emergence of more technical courses.
Most academics agree that there needs to be a professionalisation of the industry to meet these demands. Popular entry pathways remain through a degree in business or commerce majoring in human resources, or via a Certificate IV in HR, a graduate diploma in HR or a professional diploma of HR after a few years’ work experience. But there are still many people with no formal training.
“In this day and age, doing a degree qualification in HR is the minimum standard in most senior HR people’s eyes,” says Dr Karen Becker, a senior lecturer at Queensland University of Technology’s business school.
Legal changes affecting bullying and harassment, flexible work arrangements, superannuation amendments, and work, health and safety practices are also tweaking the way training is being conducted.
“There is a need for significantly more WHS expertise to deliver the practical processes required under the new laws,” explains Siobhan Flores-Walsh, employment lawyer at law firm Norton Rose.
There is no denying human resources departments regularly need to update their knowledge and skill sets.
“Organisations are constantly needing to evolve. There’s wave after wave of change brought on by external developments in the economy, and our society expects different things than it did 10 years ago,” says Wendy Lundgaard, director of Win-Win Workplace Strategies.
Leah Santibanez’s journey
Leah took a roundabout route to her role as HR adviser for 7-Eleven Stores.
“I worked for an arts organisation in London after graduating from university, and then decided to move to Melbourne. I got a role supporting the HR department for Mobil Quix Retail, which operated the Mobil-branded service stations,” explains Santibanez.
“I provided administrative support for a short while and was then offered the HR project coordinator role. This was a great starting point in HR as it involved coordinating new HR initiatives and policy reviews, streamlining processes and systems, reporting and metrics,” she says.
One year later, Santibanez was offered a HR adviser role, overseeing 73 stores and 850 people in Victoria and South Australia.
A senior colleague and mentor suggested she complete a postgraduate Professional Diploma of Human Resources at the Australian Human Resources Institute.
“It was challenging to balance work and study. The experience changed the way I approach my work. It allowed me to build a solid foundation for the on-the-job experience and learning I’d gained, and helped me to take a more strategic approach to my work,” says Santibanez, who won AHRI’s Student of the Year Award in 2011.
The course is split into four units and can be completed entirely online, or as workshops in a more traditional classroom setting.
Santibanez preferred the workshop approach to the course and the opportunity for sharing and networking.
Leah has since taken up a new role as business partner, people and performance at Peters Ice Cream.