Which online HR graduate program is right for me – HR or workforce transformation?

Man riding a bicycle to work
After two decades of rapid digital transformation, the response to the coronavirus pandemic took things to the next level. 

The Australian workplace essentially transformed into work-from-home overnight. Consequently, human resources (HR) professionals are now focussing more on workforce transformation - and it’s a trend that’s unlikely to end anytime soon. 

PwC’s annual CEO survey reveals that 83 per cent of all CEOs plan to meet the challenges from technological disrupters head-on and increase their long-term investment in digital transformation. In fact, half of all CEOs said they plan to increase it significantly.

Other priorities that are high on CEOs’ agenda are initiatives to realise cost efficiencies and cybersecurity and data privacy. To achieve all these goals, there’s likely to be even more workforce transformation.

So, what’s an HR professional with career goals to do? Should you be upskilling with a postgraduate degree in workforce transformation or human resources management?

What’s the difference between human resources and workforce transformation? 

Human resources 

Human resources sits at the wide end of a pyramid with workforce transformation as its point – which way up the pyramid sits depends on your perspective. For the expert, workforce transformation sits at the top as a specialisation of human resources. As far as the HR executive is concerned, the pyramid is inverted, and workforce transformation is one component of a well-oiled HR machine that they are driving.

The all-encompassing purpose of human resources is to create better workplaces and manage organisational capacity. This is done by ensuring organisations have enough employees with the right qualifications and experience to run sustainably. For most businesses, the perfect recruit doesn’t exist, so HR takes care of onboarding, training and developing a positive workplace culture for future-proofed companies.

Workforce transformation 

Workforce transformation can be continual but may also be project-based, with a specific timeline. Successful workforce transformation relies on your ability to anticipate, lead and implement workforce transformations that are future focussed.

Alex Badenoch is an executive at Telstra whose HR career has increasingly focussed on transformation. After early roles as an HR generalist, she has worked in organisational effectiveness and organisational development to arrive at her current role as Group Executive for Transformation, Communications and People.

While her role still involves the traditional HR aspects of people and culture, workforce planning, and employee relations, Ms Badenoch is concentrating on workforce transformation and Telstra’s future workforce.

“We’ve got parts of our business where we’re managing a big decline in the workforce that we can see over coming years, and we have to think about either how we help those people transition, or if we use that as a supply pool that we can start training now for what we’re going to need somewhere else in three to five years,” Badenoch said.

In some ways, the workforce transformation members of the HR team should consider themselves as internal consultants to senior management and the board. Their role is to advise on the implications of digital transformation and other types of workforce transformation.

What skills will I learn in HR and workforce transformation online graduate programs? 

RMIT Online’s Master of Human Resource Management offers you the chance to consolidate and build on your existing qualifications and work experience. It’s an opportunity to think critically about HR principles and use those insights to formulate strategies that you can apply in your workplace.

You’ll also sharpen your skills in reading and comprehending employment law. As employers negotiate post-pandemic flexible working demands, you’ll have the ability to identify and analyse legal and associated issues.

When it comes to the RMIT Online Graduate Certificate in Workforce Transformation, you’ll develop the skills to create a transformation roadmap and then lead changes to work through data and insights.

The Graduate Certificate also offers an elective in agile project management, enabling you to choose the right methodology to build your agile workforce. You’ll be able to formulate an agile project management strategy that dovetails with your workforce transformation strategy.

A selection of the electives available to the Graduate Certificate are also part of the Master of Human Resource Management – so you can have the best of both worlds. No matter which of these two postgraduate programs you choose, you can improve your skills in strategic HRM and global HRM and manage issues in diversity.

If you’re leaning more towards the Master of Human Resource Management, you’ll be pleased to hear that you can also choose an elective from the Grad Cert in workforce transformation. This means you can develop skills in workforce data visualisations and the dexterity to communicate the insights they reveal.

Comparison table of RMIT Online's Human Resource Management and Workforce Transformation programs


How long will I study for each program?

The similarities

  • Both part-time and 100 per cent online. That means you can continue to work full-time and fit your studies around your existing life commitments, whether you're in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane or anywhere else in Australia.
  • Both programs have six different opportunities to begin each year. There’s no need to wait until next semester to start, let alone next year.
  • Both programs are fast-tracked, so you can get in, get qualified and get on with achieving your career goals as rapidly as possible. You'll also get plenty of networking opportunities thanks to our easy-to-use online learning system.

The differences

Because of its narrow and specialised focus, the Graduate Certificate in Workplace Transformation is a short program for a quick upskill that you can achieve within eight months. With the strategy behind it, the timeline underpinning it and the career transformation it’s likely to deliver, you could consider this program your first real-world exercise in workforce transformation - the change management of your own personal workplace.

The Master of Human Resource Management demands a slightly larger time commitment to access the greater prestige that this qualification bestows. You can develop a broad range of skills, including workplace transformation, in just two and a half years of intensive, part-time study.

What are the job opportunities for HR graduates and workforce transformation graduates?

Job opportunities are many, and, according to Job Outlook, HR and related jobs will experience robust growth in the next five years. 

Some typical examples of job titles are:

  • HR Administrators or Coordinators
  • Human Resource Advisors
  • Change Managers
  • Transformation Managers
  • Transition Managers
  • Workplace Relations Advisors
  • Recruitment Consultants

Why the growth? Research from the US shows that 73 per cent of employees need support from their employers to prepare for the future of work. 

With this in mind, Harvard Business Review (HBR) makes the comparison that just as the 2008 GFC brought CFOs into the C-suite spotlight, the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is likely to do the same for HR professionals.

Many new jobs will likely come into existence, too. Gazing into their crystal ball, HBR foresees a variety of new jobs for HR job seekers, such as: 

  • WFH Facilitator
  • Future-of-Work Leader
  • Climate Change Response Leader
  • Gig Economy Manager
  • Human Bias Officer; and 
  • Chatbot and Human Facilitator.

What salaries can I expect in HR fields?

According to Seek, Change Managers, Transition Managers and Transformation Managers can expect to earn between $120,000 and $150,000. Employers for these roles are looking for financial acumen, stakeholder management and retail services, making the Graduate Certificate in Workforce Transformation ideal for anyone with an undergraduate degree.

If you’re looking for the broader benefits of the Master of Human Resource Management, HR coordinators or Human Resources administrators who step up to the role of HR Manager can expect their salary to rise from an entry-level $70,000 to around $110,000. 

If you’re building on your HR Manager role and have your sights set on HR Director, your salary is likely to be over $200,000.

Which of RMIT Online's human resources graduate programs should I study?

Taking the next step in your career is a personal decision that is informed by your unique situation. Nobody else has the same combination of education, training, work and life experience as you. So, when you add the right human resources graduate program to this uniqueness, you can take a giant leap in the direction of your dream job.

Graduate Certificate in Workforce Transformation

RMIT’s Graduate Certificate in Workforce Transformation has been co-designed with industry to develop specialists who can successfully guide organisational change. This is a short, intensive, part-time program for HR and change professionals with a laser-sharp focus. 

Starting as you mean to go on, the Graduate Certificate uncovers the emerging trends in workforce transformation and lays down the strategies required to evolve productively. This program also instils best practices for leading workforce transformation and offers various electives to customise the program to your distinctive goals.

Master of Human Resource Management

Our Master of Human Resource Management is a broader program for HR professionals who can hear the call of the C-Suite. This is a longer program that will deepen and extend your HR expertise.

With the masters, you’ll develop strategic human resource management abilities that will help you ensure your business maintains a competitive edge. You’ll also cultivate a thorough understanding of employment law to navigate the rapidly changing working environment deftly.

Learn more about our Master of Human Resource Management and our Graduate Certificate in Workforce Transformation. You can book a 15-minute chat with one of our expert Student Success Advisors via our website or call 1300 701 171.