Challenges in Postgraduate levels of HR Education in India: the way ahead

There are many challenges to postgraduate level education in what is commonly called Human Resources Management (HR for short) in India. A few of these main challenges are discussed in some detail in this article.


There are three main streams of higher education in India. The first one pertains to the HR specialization offered by the many Schools of Social Work offering the Master's Degree in Social Work (MSW). The second stream comes from the various MBA or the equivalent PGDM courses that offer HR as the main specialization or one of the two dual specializations. The third stream happens through the Post-Graduate Degree in Human Resources Management, Labour Welfare, or Labor Administration by some State Universities. This comprehensive course is somewhat more focused, particularly in terms of labor laws.

The main challenges of the HR profession are- a) Very few professionals with adequate training in Industrial relations b) Confusion between the soft and hard HR approaches c) Inadequate importance given to Strategic Human Resources Management d) HR in IT undergoing a transformation process and e) The need for more comprehensive HR Education.

Fewer professionals trained in Industrial relations

As a profession, HR is very much influenced by real-world events in various businesses at any point in time. Industrial Relations has actually and factually been a big part of higher education in HR for a very long time. Wherever the training in the classroom has been able to relate very well to the dynamics of industrial relations, on the basis of exposure on the one hand and serious internship in the nitty-gritty of industrial relations on the other, the outcomes have been very good. This is true of the MSW course and the Master's Degree in HRM offered by the DG Vaishnav College Chennai.

Educational institutions need to understand the dynamics of effective teaching and training through the success stories of institutions where HR is seen as a passion and not as just another course. Secondly, the teaching process should compulsorily invite more experienced IR professionals who had signed a series of settlements with recognized trade unions, handled a variety of grievances, and so on. These professionals are there in the manufacturing sector and bring with them a massive range of experiences. They should be invited as guest faculty on a very regular basis. Furthermore, the internship should be organized at the end of the first year, and a full three months period starting from the month of January in the second year. This internship can even continue for two months after the final year examinations are over and till the student joins her or her first job, even if that job placement happens through the campus interview process.

Confusion between the soft and hard HR approaches

The "soft" HR is often seen as the one that is seen in IT companies, and the one that has the industrial relations component in manufacturing organizations is referred to as the "hard" HR. The reality is that HR is but one very important component of the overall business context for the particular organization that keeps on changing every month or year. For example, today, given the thrust of the Government of India on what is called "ease of doing business", there is a massive number of contract and casual employee workforce in almost every Indian organization. The reality is that the salaries in the Information Technology sector have not drastically improved at all for those with less than five years of experience. It has tanked at around the five lakh rupee per annum range for a long time now.

The job cuts in the IT sector have caused huge heartburn among employees. Since there are no trade unions in IT organizations, at least as of now, the problems are not as acute as they are in the manufacturing sector. Higher education in HR should include the dynamics of each of these changes to enable the students to live with the changes happening all around.

Inadequate importance given to strategic HR management

The MSW courses in most institutions and the MBA courses do not have importance given to Strategic Human Resources Management which is actually necessary because HR is one vital component of the overall business strategy, The two best colleges for HR are Xavier Labour Relations Institute Jamshedpur and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences Mumbai. These two institutions have the tremendous backing and support of the Tata group and fabulous research facilities. Their syllabus is updated regularly and the faculty have rich consultancy experience as well. This is exactly what is missing in the other institutions. It is high time that the other institutions have arrangements for academic and even Faculty support from these two institutions. There is ample scope for such collaborations to take place on a larger basis.

Transformation of HR in IT

Exposure to HR practices abroad and the willingness to aim for engaged employees who are dedicated to a cause makes HR a viable operation in the best of IT organizations. However, the challenges are now more daunting than ever. For example, the work-from-home culture is now preferred by most employees for the vital work-life balance. Since they have experienced the other side of life for almost two years of the pandemic, they are very much not inclined to go back to work life before. Hence, this is going to be a major challenge for HR professionals in IT companies. And when the global slowdown starts, the process of shedding some jobs is bound to happen. The consequences can be imagined. However, wherever the employees are multi[-skilled, there has not been a big problem. It is also hoped that when the African economies improve, fresh opportunities for IT professionals in African countries and in new countries of Europe. This will improve the scope for HR to make really good improvements in terms of effectiveness. After all, happy employees always lead to increased productivity and this can indeed make a big difference in any organization. Higher education in HR should be structured to capture all progressive practices towards this end.

The need for more comprehensive HR Education

HR education should always be structured to capture the various "what if" scenarios in any situation. For example, the New Industrial Relations Code is being opposed by the Central Trade Unions, including the apex trade union affiliated with the Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP). The various State Governments have also started framing rules in this regard. However, what shape these rules will take will depend on a huge number of variables. These variables lead to the "what if" scenarios. Only such creative thinking will enable HR professionals to be more comprehensively prepared for the dynamic challenges in any given situation.


Certain challenges confronting higher education in HR, with specific reference to the practices in the real world, have been discussed above. It is quite clear that HR should become part of the overall business strategy and any input in the classroom has to take into account this vital aspect of HR. Educational institutions need to keep on updating their syllabuses to include the changes happening in the real world.


Author: DR.N.V. Srinivasa Rao26 Dec 2022 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 4

During my entire career in the manufacturing sector, I have seen many HR professionals who were not able to talk to a union leader in a convincing way. They look at the production manager or somebody else to see that the union leader will get convinced. It is mainly due to not having proper training and experience in industrial relations. Many people think that industrial relations are not a part of HR management which is a wrong concept. In fact, a qualified HR professional from an industry can become a good faculty and train fresh people in the way they want. That is why internships for the students doing their MSW or MA IRPM are very important and that should be made a compulsory part of their curriculum.

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