Should HR and education go hand in hand?


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Is it HR's remit to share knowledge, experience and intellectual property to develop and improve the general business population?

Back in September hundreds of thousands of people went back into education. First days, final year, the learning in-between. All ready for their next steps in the personal development journey.

Education is part and parcel of the HR function. Learning and development within a business is crucial to successfully achieving personal and business goals. Without education a business cannot remain aligned towards one common purpose. Without education a business cannot thrive through its values. Without education great employees lose direction.

Educating our people is a core function of HR; but how involved should we get in the education of others?

By others I mean those in schools, colleges and universities. I also mean employees from other organisations. Is it HR’s responsibility to drive the education conversation, ensuring that future recruits have the skills required for modern-day business? Is it the remit of HR teams to share their knowledge, experience and intellectual property in an effort to develop and improve the general business population, supporting the bigger picture of a prosperous economy?

I believe so.

I have argued previously that educational facilities and our own businesses are not set up to educate people in the way we need for sustainable future leadership. That there needs to be a sea-change in the way our young people and leaders are developed. And that HR must play their part.

In fact, I’d go one step further and say that as the custodians of employees – past, present and future – it’s our responsibility to drive this disruption.

That is why we have decided to operate our own external facility, the Dorchester Collection Academy Centre, for leaders and managers. Regardless of sector, background, size of business or type of school, our Academy will be available to all.

Launching in February 2018 we will offer individual courses and programmes aligned to strong leadership principles, allowing people to grow by learning about themselves – something I believe must be at the heart of every true people leader. This will help them to better understand others they work with: both colleagues, direct reports and their own leaders.

I am immensely proud that we’re bringing HR and education closer together. However, I appreciate that not everyone can do this. But there are plenty of other ways. Many of us partner with schools and colleges as part of our attraction strategy. Take this one step further and co-create real-life development. Learning that centres not on theory, but hands-on experiences.

Switch up the work experiences you offer. Make them true experiences where soft skills are developed, mistakes are made, and those involved get to know themselves. Step away from traditional, tick-box apprenticeships and think about the value adds around them. Our apprentices have access to clubs where they can meet celebrity chefs and learn first-hand about the kitchen. They can visit suppliers and watch the whole journey from field to fork. They don’t just have an assessor; they have a mentor, a buddy and someone to lend an ear when needed.

There is so much we, as HR professionals, can do with education. We can teach the real world. We can develop the skills for the future. And we can shake up education.

Eugenio Pirri is chief people and culture officer at Dorchester Collection

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