In October, the prestigious London based Financial Times ranked the University of Sydney Business School's flagship Master of Management as Australia's number one program of its kind for the seventh consecutive year.
Of 100 institutions in the list, the University ranked fifth place worldwide, cementing its place as Australia’s leading business school.
However, the University won’t be resting on its laurels in 2020, announcing that it has revamped some of its programs to tackle major challenges associated with Australia’s highly casualised, aging and increasingly diverse workforce.
The School’s Master of Human Recourses and Industrial Relations Program – which will be launched next year – was developed following wide consultation with industry, the commercial sector, government and not-for-profit organisations.
The program’s director, Helena Nguyen, said that the HR and IR landscape was being transformed by new technology and political, economic and social change.
“For these reasons, there has never been a better time to study HR and IR,” Dr Nguyen said.
Professor Marian Baird, who heads the Business School’s discipline of Work and Organisational Studies, said a sense of job insecurity amongst young Australians was one of the greatest challenges facing the nation.
“While young people are ready to embrace new technology, they worry that their permanent job could be undermined by work going offshore or going to others in Australia who could bid for that work at a lower rate or for lower entitlements,” Professor Baird said.
Professor Baird also said that in addition to job security, HR is grappling with an aging, increasingly feminised and more ethnically diverse workforce.
“Our revamped program includes a new unit that recognises the significant change in the composition of the workforce, covers the future of work and looks at how industrial relations experts need to respond to the evolving regulatory environment,” Professor Baird said.
“We also acknowledge and have responded, through this program, to the growing diversity within our student population,” she said.
“The program will cover diversity, inclusion and intersectionality.”
The impact of technology, big data and analytics on HR and IR also featured during in a wide-ranging panel discussion between Professor Baird, Dr Nguyen and industry experts.
KPMG’s Stephen Barrow-Yu said that data and data analytics raised a trust issue.
“You have got to convince people that technology can improve workplace performance,” he said.
Presence of IT consultant, Rob Scott, said that while new technology allowed for greater choice in the workplace and should be supported, a balance had to be struck to ensure that work is not “overwhelmed” by technology.
Dr Nguyen pointed out that the Business School’s Master of HR and IR program will include a new unit on HR data insights which “recognises the way business now use data and how HR professionals need the skill to interrogate it and use in a constructive way”.
The aim of the program is to produce effective strategic HR management partners; confident employee advocates; administrative experts; knowledgeable change agents; persuasive communicators and discerning researchers.