Workforces across all sectors are undergoing major changes, putting huge pressure on human resource (HR) professionals across the country.
The industry acknowledges that professionals are being forced to look outside the square for new ways to address how employers want to engage their staff, and how employees want to work, such as the growth in remote and freelance staff.
These new challenges bode well for the HR sector itself, according to a new report by Deloitte Access Economics called The future of work: Occupational and education trends in human resources in Australia.
Which trends are set to impact the HR workforce?
The Deloitte Access Economics report reveals that technological and workforce change is contributing to growing demand for HR skills over the next five years.
In fact, the report found that the Australian HR workforce is forecast to experience solid growth in the next five years. Forecasting conducted by Deloitte shows that the relevant workforce will grow from 218,000 people in 2016/17 to 245,000 by 2021/22 - an increase of around 27,000 workers at an annual average growth rate of 2.3 per cent.
The industry is also set to be one of the best earners around, with a forecast income for workers with postgraduate qualifications in 2021/22 projected to sit at a healthy $160,132 per annum.
Program Director of Human Resources Management at RMIT University, Dr Alan Montague, told Deloitte researchers that one of the key drivers of growing demand for HR management skills and qualifications is the significant technological change arising from developments such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
This means that businesses across all industries will need more change management and human resources developing and training skills to facilitate successful transitions, particularly in light of the potential magnitude of future workplace disruption.
An increasing sense of corporate responsibility and ethics in the workplace will also drive growth in the HR sector, Dr Montague says.
Interpersonal, communication and problem-solving skills will be critical for success, with workers in the human resources area needing to guide workplaces through changes to organisational performance, governance and employment law.
The Deloitte report revealed that the best employment opportunities lie in human resource management roles and also for policy and planning managers, human resource professionals, training and development professionals and management and organisation analysts.
How further study can prepare you for the future
Further study in the HR area will provide workers with opportunities to upskill in a mix of theory and practice, the Deloitte report also revealed.
It cited a recent Australian Human Resources Institute Survey, which found that even though almost 30 per cent of its members already hold a Masters’ degree (as offered by the RMIT HR program), over half HR professionals believe they will need to pursue further education to prepare for future changes in the workplace environment.
Nine out of 10 of HR professionals also expressed confidence that they will be able to acquire the skills they need to meet future challenges.
RMIT University’s Master of HR Management is designed for people with extensive experience who wish to update their knowledge of contemporary global thinking, or those starting out in the sector. It can be undertaken full time or part time, either on-campus or entirely online.