The headlines are everywhere….
People Are Putting Less Faith in Four-Year College Degrees –Education Week
Americans Are Divided on Whether College Degrees Are Worth It –Fortune Magazine
Americans see the value in getting a college degree, but they’re not particularly happy with our nation’s higher education system –Inside Higher Ed
When I read these headlines, I can’t help but think about my own field – Human Resources. I ask myself, how do I explain the value of a Bachelor’s Degree in HR to a high school senior or a college freshman? They will probably ask, “How much money will I make when I graduate?” Or, “What can I do with that degree?” Or, better yet, “Isn’t the money in Finance and Accounting?”
I remember being an impressionable student with an undeclared major. I also remember knowing what I wanted out of my career and more importantly, what I did not want.
During our first class, my Introduction to HR professor joyfully stated, “If you like people and you like business, then HR is for you!”
Although brief, this statement was one I strongly considered when I decided to declare HR as my major. It was also then that I realized the influential role that business professors and schools have on the outlook of the HR profession.
Most of the HR professionals I know absolutely love the profession! We also know the countless ways a strong HR function adds value to an organization. I also know there is an unspoken (though sometimes spoken) battle for HR to be considered just as strategic as Finance, Sales, Marketing and Operations functions of the organization. The mission and purpose of our professional associations like SHRM and CUPA-HR have been to enhance the relevance of the HR profession. There is also my new personal favorite organization, the Disrupt HR Movement! It is a movement designed to energize, inform and empower people in the HR field!
However, our efforts will be futile if business schools do not continue to partner in the development of the HR profession. Here are a few things for B-Schools and HR to consider:
Teach the Possibilities
What makes HR such a beautiful field is the amazing possibilities. Yet, the career paths that are typically showcased do not display the great outlook in the HR profession.
Do a Google search for careers in HR. Your search results will yield the primary career options: HR Generalist, HR Manager, HR Business Partner and HR Director. Similarly, you will see the same career options for HR majors on multiple College of Business websites. Instead, B-Schools can help the change the narrative by outlining the new ways HR is evolving into promising areas such as consulting, academia and IT. Career paths in HR are constantly expanding! Business students should be aware of the width and depth of the HR profession. Bonus: HR can be presented as an awesome feeder major for those considering a Law degree or Masters of Public Administration.
Make it Practical
Think about it. There is very little theory that goes into sourcing, recruiting, interviewing and hiring for a position. The field of HR is strategic, but also very practical. Therefore, HR and business schools should connect to better simulate real HR issues.
According to a 2015 Georgetown University Study, employers spend more than $400 billion a year for on-the-job training to provide the necessary skills that were not gained at colleges and universities.
Working together, educators and businesses can address the shortcomings in the current system: an outdated teaching method that does not produce the skills companies need and the poor return on investment for students who spend more money on a college degree than it’s worth in the job market. -Newsday
Engage the Practitioners
Real stories from real people have impact. More than any other field, HR practitioners must tell the future business community what we are about. The Society of Human Resources Management has done an outstanding job of doing this through the HR Storytellers series. In this series, HR professionals share personal stories about their HR careers, which show why they are so passionate about their craft. Simply put, they answer the question, “Why HR?” Mirroring this concept in business schools across the nation is critical to the advancement of this profession!
So, this is the charge. Find ways to engage your local College of Business today! Faculty in Business Schools – find ways to engage an HR professional today! We need each other.
What are some ways you think business schools can engage with HR professionals?