In one of my most popular posts ever, I described the divide between what students are taught and what the workplace is actually like. It\’s obviously not an isolated issue, because many people have contacted me through comments and email to talk about the problem. The community is an amazing thing, and I truly believe we can get past this obstacle through a group effort. If the HR curriculum is not preparing people for the actual work to be performed, then there is obviously a disconnect between the business side and the education side of HR. How then can we bridge that gap?
To build the effectiveness of the HR curriculum-Business needs to get involved with education.
- Tell us what we need to know to be successful. If anyone knows what the HR curriculum should be, it\’s the people who are working in the industry. Don\’t expect a professor who hasn\’t worked in the private sector in twenty years to know what skills are needed.
- Set up an internship program. Get free workers for your business. Sounds appealing, right? But here\’s the catch—you actually have to do something with them. They\’re not there for coffee. They\’re there to learn. They will be running the company when enough years pass by, and you need to keep that in mind when you\’re giving them projects to complete.
- Let us be flexible when we get there. Encourage creativity and innovation in your HR department. If you want to be great, you\’ll at least listen to what the younger generation has to say. Even if every single thing the person makes you tear up from the stupidity (you\’re the one who hired him/her!), there may be one golden idea that makes the rest worthwhile.
To build the usefulness of the HR curriculum-Education needs to get involved with business.
- Build the HR curriculum around business needs. Go to the business community. Be involved with networking events outside the university. Find out what problems businesses are having and teach your students to solve those problems. And even if you don\’t know how to solve them, using the classroom to brainstorm solutions could lead to some amazing things.
- Provide college credits for internships. If a student goes out there to work in a position that\’s related to what they\’re studying, then the learning outside the classroom could outweigh the learning inside the classroom in some cases. Why not allow them to get a little closer to graduation with some internship credits?
- Assign more project work as opposed to only memorization. The first time I had an assignment at work, I memorized a page of facts and took a test. Wait a minute; that\’s not how it went at all. I had a project to complete, and I was “graded” on multiple factors. Let people be responsible for their own work and let the results speak for themselves.
If this gap in the HR curriculum is going to be bridged, then both parties need to be vigilant. Paying for an education that provides little long-term value is a waste of valuable time and money. HR professionals, push your company to work toward these goals. Students, push your university to work toward these goals. Together, we can transform HR education into a platform to launch people into stellar careers in the human resources field.
Read more in the HR education series.