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Aligning Higher Education with HR

| 3 Min Read

In an ideal world, Higher Education and industry would work in perfect synchronisation to the delight of HR departments, where graduating students enter the workforce with the precise skills and attributes that organisations are seeking and participants in professional development activities rapidly build and enhance the right skills. In reality, however, there is frequently a misalignment between course outcomes and the immediate needs of employers. Finding strategies to bridge these gaps is beneficial for all parties. In this article, we look at a selection of ways that Higher Education organisations can better collaborate with HR departments and support the needs of industry.


Integrate Key Skills:

An area that is fast becoming more and more critical within the workplace is the clear and apparent need for individuals to possess a solid foundation of “soft skills”. With such a fast-paced and often variable modern workplace environment, skills such as resilience, adaptability and ability to manage complexity are virtual necessities to support both day-to-day operations and wider organisational initiatives. However, recent research carried out by Guroo Learning identified that most managers are still focused more on education and development activities relating to leadership and management or role-specific knowledge, with much less emphasis placed on soft skill development, despite the escalating need.

How do you resolve this and bring soft skills to the forefront? The simplest way is to incorporate soft skills development and content into existing popular courses. Embedding these elements into courses that are aligned with in-focus offerings means Higher Education can increase its value proposition,  through making  soft skills development a core lever to create more well-rounded individuals that are better prepared to meet all of the needs and expectations of the workplace.


Expand Partnerships:

The clearest view of the needs of industry comes, of course, from the industry itself. Partnerships between Higher Education and industry are not a new phenomenon, there is a rich history of this engagement over time.  Such partnerships help Higher Education providers keep pace with industry trends, ideally helping inform better alignment between their programs and the strategic direction of the market and its participants, which in-turn provides opportunities for collaborative projects, internships, guest lectures, and mentorship programs. All of which help provide students with real-world insights and/or experiences. 

In adding a further dimension to the potential of such partnerships, the HR or people culture stakeholders should be one of your key collaborators. Human resources often have arguably one of the most informed views of the holistic needs of the business and are likely to be one of the departments most motivated to achieve a tighter alignment with education to help bolster their talent pipeline and increase the capability of the present talent in the business.

HR departments are most frequently a centralised function, meaning they have exposure to inputs, at both a strategic and operational level from both managers and team members that helps identify perceived (and real) skill gaps, emerging trends, and future needs that might not be felt today. This information is invaluable, and often provides more detailed insights into the skills needs of the organisation’s workers than what could be gathered from organisational development plans or individual operating groups.

Working closely with industry partners, and in particular rich engagement with HR departments, can provide educators with more relevant, immediate and actionable information that can help inform course development priorities, making sure that learning remains tightly aligned to the needs of industry.image-2-3

Work with the Faculty:

Engaging and supporting faculty members is critical in ensuring that the curriculum aligns with industry needs and remains current and relevant. With the information gathered in conjunction with your organisational partners and their HR departments, faculty members should be encouraged to incorporate case studies, scenarios, and supporting materials that reflect and support the needs of industry into their teaching to provide students with practical insights into relevant, real-world and contemporary challenges. Involving the faculty in discussions with HR and your organisational partners gives your key staff deeper insights into your partners’ needs, and provides them with more personal insights into the needs of the wider workforce.
This can be supported by offering professional development opportunities to faculty members that align with identified workplace needs and enhance the faculty’s knowledge and expertise in their respective fields.

Focusing industry alignment toward the needs of and inputs from HR is an excellent way to align with the broader needs of your partner organisations. Through a central point of contact, there is an opportunity to gain in-depth insight into the plans, needs and goals of your partners, helping you to optimise your learning content and ultimately ensuring that your students are equipped with more of what they need to effectively participate in the future workforce.