Human resource development: Demand upsurge for HRD professionals

Valuations of human resources or human capital are increasingly being factored into annual reports of leading-edge corporates
With the quality and worth of business organisations increasingly being evaluated by the quality and productivity of their employees, the human resource development (HRD) portfolio has moved from the periphery to centre-stage in the corporate world. The prime function of HRD managers is the development and upskilling of employees to enable business organisations to keep pace and compete in the emerging and fiercely competitive global marketplace. Not surprisingly, valuations of human resources or human capital are increasingly being factored into annual reports and balance sheets of leading edge corporates around the world.

The transformation of the personnel management (earlier industrial relations) function into human resource development began in the 1980s when corporate leaders became increasingly aware that to survive and prosper they would have to develop their human resources. There was a dawning realisation that people work for much more than money; that they experience a need for self-development, an appropriate environment, a sense of belonging to their organisations etc. To continuously upskill human resources and create enabling environments, corporates experienced a sharp upsurge in the demand for professional HRD managers. The nature and ambit of an HRD managers work varies from one establishment to the next, depending on its size and business philosophy. Broadly speaking, the larger the organisation, the greater the respon-sibility of its HRD department with its managers being required to devise strategic human capital development policies while discharging mainline functions. This represents a sea change for personnel managers used to merely advising boards of directors; now the head of HRD is usually on the board of directors.

As an applied function, HRD professionals are required to draw upon a wide range of disciplines including education, the management sciences, psychology, communications, organisation behaviour, economics, philosophy, and sociology. Simultaneously HRD managers are required to discharge the functions of training, organisation and career development, performance improvement, organisation/job design, human resource planning, performance management systems, and selection and staffing. Increasingly the HRD function is becoming all-encompassing: it can range from training activities to designing entire systems for achieving the strategic goals of business organisations.

Therefore HRD professionals need to be trained and equipped to discharge a variety of roles, from skills training to change agent, from the designer of instructional programmes to conceptualiser of organisational vision and strategic direction. Though to start with, HRD professionals may need to discharge lower and middle level executive roles, as they rise within the hierarchy they are required to devise training and development programmes, help employees with career development, facilitate group meetings, identify needs of employees in terms of development, and evaluate individuals (recruitment, performance appraisal, and promotion).

STUDY PROGRAMMES. Entry into this increasingly high profile profession is accessible from several higher education backgrounds though most larger corporates prefer to recruit postgraduates.

The most sought-after HRD professionals are those with postgrad specialisation in personnel management (two-year full-time Masters in management studies – personnel), post-graduate diploma in business admini-stration (PGDBA) (personnel), or three year part-time Masters in human resource develop-ment management (MHRDM) qualifi-cation. Professionals with diplomas (DHRM) or specialised experience in personnel-related activities are also in demand though they are usually placed in subordinate positions. A specialisation in labour law is also acceptable, particularly for handling industrial relations in an organisation. Other valued qualifications include a Masters in personnel management/human resource development, Masters in social work or personnel and industrial relations from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai.

For those interested in entering academia, an MBA with specialisation in human resources or organisational behaviour (OB) is the best option. This followed by a doctorate in the same field would make you eligible to teach human resources or OB in any institution.

The gainful employment horizon for HRD professionals is very good, particularly in information technology, healthcare, financial services, and telecommunication corporates where the demand is rising by leaps and bounds. Private and public sector manufacturing and service companies, HRD consultancy organisations and recruiting consultants, NGOs, university departments, and B-schools also value qualified HRD professionals very highly.

The job market is buzzing. Multinational organisations are setting up base in India with many shifting their back-end operations toIndian cities. The retail sector is booming and every self-respecting foreign bank is inaugurating branches in India. Poaching is no longer a bad word and is, in fact synonymous with hiring. Thus recruitment consulting is actually a very lucrative high-potential career choice.

Comments K.S. Srinivasan, vice-president of human resources of the Mumbai-based Indian Hotels Ltd which manages the globe-girdling Taj group of hotels: With the transition of the agricultural economy into an industrial economy being powered by the digital revolution, organisations realise that recruiting and retaining talented professionals is vital to business success. Therefore, the HRD managers job has evolved over time to become an important strategic development function in competitive corporates which are increasingly regarding people as the most critical corporate assets. Building peoples competencies, recruiting high-potential professionals, devising reward and recognition systems, and providing learning opportunities for employees are critical for the success of business organisations competing in the global marketplace

For those who qualify and opt for this profession, Srinivasan predicts a bright future. I visualise a challenging future for HRD professionals in the next decade. With growing awareness that corporate performance rests on the foundation built by HRD professionals, the demand for them is certain to sky-rocket,” says Srinivasan

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