SHRM\’s HR Education Efforts

Creepy professor photo

Creepiest professor photo I could find...

In recent posts, I\’ve discussed the gaps in the HR curriculum and how HR education is not providing adequate training for those preparing for a career in human resources. I recently had the chance (thanks to China Gorman, COO of SHRM) to talk with Nancy Woolever. Nancy is the Manager of Academic Initiatives for the Knowledge Development Division of SHRM. As such, she has an invaluable perspective on how SHRM is attempting to meet the needs of the HR community via the education route. We also had the opportunity to speak on another topic related to new HR professionals, but that will have to wait for another day.

Much of the conversation was focused on the HR curriculum that SHRM has put together. It is based on research and data gathered from polling students and experienced professionals. That information was packaged in the Guidebook. If you have the time, it’s an interesting read. They also have some great research that I spent some time reading up on in the past week.

One of the questions I was dying to ask was “How can I get my local college to get into the process?” I do some work with local students (and students elsewhere in the US), and I plan to do even more in coming months. I want to make sure that they are getting the necessary education to prepare them for the wide world of human resources. The process for getting the “SHRM stamp of approval” in a new school is this:

  • School contacts SHRM to see if they qualify for the SHRM curriculum
  • SHRM reviews the school\’s requirements and gives one of two recommendations
  • Yes, the school does meet the requirements (gets recognized publicly)
  • No, the school does not (SHRM provides guidance to get them up to snuff)

In Nancy\’s words, the SHRM curriculum project is “taking on a life of its own.” At first, the process was about building publicity by connecting with schools and organizations, but in the past year, the number of schools voluntarily approaching SHRM for consideration has risen drastically. Currently, there are approximately 125 schools participating.  To take it farther, SHRM is working to develop content that schools are lacking to help them reach their goals. For instance, if a school\’s HR curriculum is not covering performance management adequately, then SHRM can offer assistance in the form of performance management content modules to help the school get on the right track.

So, what is covered in the SHRM curriculum?

Employee and labor relations

Employment law

HR\’s role in organizations

HR and globalization

HR and mergers and acquisitions

HR and organizational strategy

Human resource information systems (HRIS)

Measuring HR outcomes: metrics and the bottom line

Risk Management: occupational health, safety and security

Performance management

Staffing: recruitment and selection

Total rewards

Workforce planning and talent management

The curriculum has some similarities to the HR certification exams. However, there are a few topics on this list that weren\’t covered in my own formal education (namely, the HRIS and metrics sections). While I can remember talking about the importance of metrics, I don’t know that we actually went any farther than that!

And speaking of my college experience, I have been reading the work of a fellow professional who is in the thick of HR education as an instructor. He writes very well and has some interesting things to say. If Twitter is your thing, he\’s over there, too. Here\’s what he had to say recently on the topic:

Working in small, liberal arts college, I am the sole proprietor of our HR program. Its success or failure is dependent on how well I carry out my job. It is up to me, in most cases, to decide what to cover, when to cover it, and how it will be carried out.

Seeing the lengths that SHRM will go to in order to prepare students for the workplace gives me hope. Before I got off the phone with Nancy, I told her that she had definitely turned me into a believer in their education efforts. One of the things that really turned me around was when Nancy said something about how SHRM wasn\’t trying to force anyone into this program. It was merely providing a “flexible and helpful” framework and allowing people to choose for themselves whether they wanted to participate. If a school wants to go it alone, then they are welcome to do so. If a school prefers to check with SHRM to see if its programs meet the requirements, then they are also welcome to do so.

I lay a challenge upon each of you.

Find out if your local HR programs are getting the job done. If not, then you could shoot them the link to this post. If they are, then congratulate them on being proactive in providing a high value education for the future leaders in HR.

Read more in the HR education series.

8 thoughts on “SHRM\’s HR Education Efforts

  1. akaBruno

    Thanks for the link. Good discussion with Nancy. I’ve worked in conjunction with her on several HR education issues, and know she is dedicated to improving HR Education.

  2. Kerensa Loucks

    The list of University HR Programs that Align with SHRM was helpful.Thanks for posting the link.

    My program is on the list! This is encouraging as I am graduating in December from Portland State University with a Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management.

    I have also been very active in our Portland State University Human Resource Management Association (PSU HRMA).

    We are affiliated with SHRM and partner with the Portland Human Resource Management Association (PHRMA).

  3. Krista Francis

    Hi, been thinking more about your post. An interesting wrinkle is that HR people enter the profession from many different portals. Some get a BA/BS in business/HR before entering the HR workforce. But there are also professionals with many other degrees who transfer into human resources. And office managers who handle ‘personnel’ issues who move up the ladder. And Admin Assistants in HR offices who advance. And all kinds of other people who fall into the profession by various routes. When you are talking about education for HR professionals, I hope you are talking about all these scenarios, and more–not just people who neatly acquire the BS/MS in HR before embarking on their human resources career.

    Just some thoughts. You may well have considered these points but they weren’t directly addressed.

    Thanks for you post!

    1. Ben Post author

      Bingo! :-) I’ve been waiting for someone to mention that. That topic is a work-in-progress. Most of the HR pros that I know actually “fell into” the position as you described. Because they “skipped” the formal education in HR, they may be better served with an hr certification. Way to be on top of things! :-D

  4. Sue Meisinger

    Glad you’re publicizing the SHRM curriculum template. To be viewed as a profession, we need to ensure some consistency in education, and it’s just not there yet. Other professions have core courses, but what would be core for HR? Who better than SHRM to be the source, and that’s why SHRM began investing in the effort a few years ago. But you’re absolutely right that the path may not be the same for everyone. I always tell business school grads to focus on getting an HR background, and those with an HR background to get a business education. It’s about filling the gaps to become the total professional.

  5. Ben Post author

    Thanks for stopping by! I’ve definitely learned that a successful HR professional has to focus his/her mind on the business goals as well as the HR-centric stuff.

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