Learning gaps in HR Higher Education: A first hand experience

B-Schools that are based in the big metros often have a big advantage. They are close to industrial organizations and the MBA students get a good exposure. But those in the other towns lack this exposure and this leads to learning gaps. This article is an attempt to discuss one such learning gap from my recent real world., a first-hand experience. experience


A couple of days ago, I was invited to address the MBA students in the second year, in a private college in one medium town of a Southern State, bordering Tamil Nadu. This town is a district headquarters town and the college is a big engineering college, that has a fairly good MBA, affiliated with the particular State Technological University. Over the years, the MBA is reputed to be the best in the town, as there are at least ten different such colleges offering the course.

The topic for my guest lecture was "HR: the New Latest Developments and Impact on Careers". It was a four-hour session, and it had a small case study on the Mahindra&Mahindra group as well. The identified gaps in learning HR, as a field of specialization, were related to a) Lack of knowledge of amendments to labor laws b) Lack of knowledge of developments in Industrial relations c) Lack of knowledge of modern HR concepts, and d) Lack of Knowledge of Career Implications.

Lack of knowledge of amendments to labor laws

It was shocking that though the teachers had talked about the New Industrial Relations code, the students lacked deep knowledge of the amendments. They were also unaware of the stand of the various State Governments and the issues related to the implementation of the amended provisions. When the feedback from the teachers was obtained, they complained that the students would always seek knowledge only from an examination point of view. They would depend on bazaar guides.

HR is not a specialization where theoretical knowledge is enough. However, even this was found to be lacking. There were two students who always answered any question. These were the proactive students, who seemed to read a lot and also get some idea of what happens in the industry. However, such students were very rare indeed. My feedback, about this learning gap, was given to the teachers.

Lack of knowledge of developments in Industrial relations

The same two students quoted above had some knowledge of disinvestment and the things that are happening to a company like BSNL. For, only such comprehensive knowledge can through comprehensive light on industrial relations as they applies to various sectors. For example, what the trade unions in the Railways are saying about the introduction of trains such as the Vande Bharat trains, that are seeking to become private sector trains, as they are operated and maintained by IRCTC, a private organization. The operation may still be in the hands of the Railways, but the Management is not. The special pricing is also totally different.

Hence, only such comprehensive knowledge can help the student give answers in an interview. And MBA students need to compulsorily have such comprehensive knowledge, anyway. Furthermore, it is also essential to know how the famous Voluntary Retirement Schemes pan out and so on. The feedback was given to the teachers to improve the input on such comprehensive knowledge, always floating around for free.

Lack of knowledge of modern HR concepts

Some ten students had some basic knowledge about a concept such as 360-degree appraisal. However, when asked about the application of this concept in the Indian corporate sector, there was absolutely no response. A good number of HR conferences had already been conducted in recent years and a number of real-world experiences have been documented. It is absolutely essential that such knowledge is acquired by the students.

Furthermore, they were totally unaware of recent developments like HR Analytics. The field of Strategic Human Resources Management has too many developments to talk about. The students were found to lack knowledge of most modern developments in HR. The teachers were given feedback on how to address this learning gap after the session was over when the Management Committee members were present.

Lack of Knowledge of Career Implications

It becomes absolutely essential to understand how to prepare oneself for the challenges in any profession. HR is no exception and the demands in terms of practical knowledge are so important. One needs total experience and should burn his or her teeth in the hard-core industrial relations field as well.

The keen and insatiable urge to acquire knowledge outside the framework of the syllabus would automatically show up in terms of practical knowledge and skill sets that one needs to acquire. For example, even a basic understanding of the implementation of Performance Management, through case studies published in any book, will through up a deep understanding of the different "what if" scenarios when the student attends his internship. Even if he or she is not able to see any practical implementation, as everything is secret, he or she should indeed interact with the managers to understand the practical context of the organizational climate and personal opinions about how the particular manager would assess some subordinates. Only when the managers from the field keep on addressing the students, they will get some exposure in this regard.

This learning gap was clearly identified and feedback was given to the teachers.


HR is a very dynamic field. Learning is always related to practice. Some learning gaps, as identified through a first-hand recent experience, have been discussed above. My feedback to the concerned would possibly address the learning gaps to some extent.


Author: DR.N.V. Srinivasa Rao05 Feb 2023 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 4

This is very useful and necessary knowledge for all HR students. Manpower is very important to any organisation and the first among the 4 Ms that are required. The machine will work as per the program as they don't have their own brains. But getting work done by human beings is very difficult as they will have their own thoughts and feelings. So keeping them on track and training them suitably to the requirement of the organisation is the function of the HR department.

An HR manager should have a grip on all the labour laws and should be aware of the changes that are taking place and how best those changed laws can be implemented without sacrificing the interest. The HR students should understand the latest concepts in tuning manpower. An MBA HR should go for an internship to big organisations where good HR practices are in force so that they will understand the application part of the subject what they studied,

Author: Umesh06 Feb 2023 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 9

The students do their MBA after their graduation degree and they are not having much idea of HR practices in industries and organisations. From that angle they are fresh and would be acquiring the related knowledge during the MBA course. As the syllabus of the MBA course is quite exhaustive and some of the concepts cannot be understood until the student gets an opportunity to observe the things happening in an organisation, it is obvious that learning gaps would remain in the outcome of the course.

Some of the students who are laborious and have interest in the subject can get a feel of things from study of a large number of case histories but again they also have to supplement their learning by doing internship or project work in some good companies.

There is much difference between the academic learning and practical learning and a student realizes this crucial aspect only when one enters in some practical career after doing MBA. The real learning starts only when he starts performing and has to give output with the existing men and material at ones disposal.

I would like to mention a small case history about a fresher who after doing MBA joined a small company in a small position and was trying to get a good job elsewhere also. Once he reported to his boss that the inventory of material in warehouse was adequate as per the computer records but the warehouse people were not able to deliver the material to the sale outlets. His boss told him that we cannot rely on data all the time and periodically have to visit the warehouse and sale outlets. When the young executive rushed to warehouse following that advice he found that there were differences in physical inventory and computer data due to some reasons like not posting the material movement or like that and that was creating all the confusion. The young boy immediately made requisite corrections and things became alright. So learning gaps can be addressed to some extent through practical experiences in the business environment.

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