Reality Bytes

HR in education sector | Aparna Sharma | Senior HR Professional & Certified Corporate Director I Editor’s Collection

Reality BytesHaving an instinct for attracting and retaining the best teachers is a key skill for any HR professional working in the education sector. HR also has its work cut out proving itself in a sector that hasn’t traditionally been as welcoming to HR as other industries. Schools have a unique culture and HR doesn’t always have the profile it has in other organisations. This requires making an impact individually, to be viewed credibly in order to make a strategic contribution.

Which HR skills does the Education sector demand?

  1. Experience of other sectors: A lot of HR skills are transferrable from other sectors. An understanding of other sectors is beneficial because it contributes to developing the commercial success of the business.
  2. Strong communication skills
  3. One needs to feel comfortable dealing with constant change. It is a sector that is subject to constant review and regulation and reacting to that is a key skill, yet for many teachers that have dedicated their whole career to their profession, managing that change requires a great deal of sensitivity and this is a key skill for any HR professional in this sector. 

What are the HR challenges in the Education sector?

  1. Hiring and retaining: Lateral movement by teachers, attracted to competitors in like-for-like jobs can be a problem and, low pay, particularly in early years’ education can be a challenge.
  2. Verification of candidate’s profiles can be a strain: The amount of pre-employment vetting checks one has to undertake before confirming employment offers can also be challenging, especially within the operational departments where managers may be short-staffed and requiring a candidate to start as soon as possible. Luckily, many of the systems used these days for such checks are now online, which has sped the process up hugely.
  3. Measuring success: Evaluation can be tricky: It is very difficult measuring success in Higher Education. In the commercial world, it is much easier with clearer metrics. Ofsted reports do go some way towards providing an evaluation framework but often that works in a team-focused way rather than assessing levels of individual competence and it can also be a source of added stress for HR.
  4. Training: Keeping up to speed with latest teaching methods and technologies for the classroom is a key focus for HR who need to implement the right training programmes for staff.
  5. Sharing ideas: Lack of knowledge-sharing within the sector is a source of frustration: Although there are many opportunities for networking within HR, there is little I have come across that is specific to schools. It would be so beneficial to have more networking events for those dealing specifically with the challenges faced within the education sector in order to compare notes and exchange ideas and best practice.

The single-most competitive edge for an organization is its people. In spite of being the most valuable resource, it is also the most difficult to manage and maintain. In today’s dynamic times, managing turnover in terms of people has now become as critical as increasing business turnover. However, at many places organizations fall short of managing their people well.

Probably the reason is that formal education in HR does not prepare the young, would-be HR manager to face and deal with the reality at the workplace. Hence, my book , “Reality Bytes-The Role of HR in Today’s World” has been written to achieve this very purpose. This book is also translated in Hindi. (available on amazon & flipkart, also on kindle).

Reality Bytes

This book has something for everyone – whether an HR student, a budding early career HR manager (1-3 years), a line manager who needs to be an HR manager in his own right to manage people or even a teacher or an entrepreneur trying to understand what HR is all about.

The contents of the book are aligned to the natural sequence of the Employee Life Cycle so that it becomes easy for the reader to connect the various HR topics that have been dealt with. Filled with caselets and practical examples, there has been an attempt to balance theory for conceptual understanding along with a focus on reality. The book gives the reader a clear idea of the strategic role that HR plays in attaining the business goals of the organization.

In summary, the function of human resource management in education includes staff maintenance, staff relations, staff development, procurement of staff and job performance reward. The challenges of human resource management include poor working condition, problem of staffing, funding, incessant transfer of teacher among others.