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A-level results welcome next generation of HR professionals

As thousands of school leavers prepare to enter the workforce on A-level results day, HR has a new generation of talent ready to enter the profession.

According to whatuni.com, there are 74 universities offering 195 courses in HR management in the UK.

To support the next generation of the profession Paul Boustead, chief people officer at the University of Leeds, said that HR should capitalise on a renewed interest in the industry.

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: "The events of the last two years have really raised the profile of the profession and also allied professions such as occupational psychology and wellbeing.

"As a profession we should be working with our educational partners to capitalise on the interest being shown by A-level and sixth form students and ensuring we provide choice and flexibility in terms of entry points into the profession (apprenticeship routes, graduate routes and also through developing and growing our own future HR leaders).

Options for school leavers:

Post-pandemic job market scares school leavers

Students fear university won't prepare them for work

Entry-level apprenticeships plunge

Going straight into work is increasingly becoming an option for those leaving school.

Research from jobs board Indeed earlier this week found 75% of employers were less interested interested in degree qualifications than they were a decade ago, meaning that there's less of a need for school leavers to go to university.

Nebel Crowhurst, vice president of people at Into University Partnerships, stressed that there are routes into the HR profession outside of university.

She told HR magazine: "While the academic route of university can provide brilliant experiences and future job prospects, a successful HR career path can also be achieved in a less traditionally academic way.

"Whilst a formal qualification supports expertise and knowledge, the richest learning comes from on the job experiences and real situations, especially given the complex people issues HR professionals handle, which means HR lends itself well to a vocational career path."

Crowhurst said more needs to be done to get people into HR careers from the start, rather than them stumbling into the profession later.

She added: "We need to be encouraging more people starting out in their careers to consider HR as a career path of choice. More often than not, when you speak to experienced HR professionals, they will say “I just somehow fell into HR”.

"Let's change that narrative and work on showcasing the great work we do, and the difference we make to the work of work, to encourage future generations to be inspired by HR and the fulfilling career it can bring.”

Dan Pell, general manager and senior vice president EMEA at data visualisation company Tableau at Salesforce, said on-the-job training would be the best way to upskill a new workforce.

He told HR magazine: "Businesses have a responsibility to offer school-leavers data programmes, mentoring schemes and on-the-job training that can future-proof the next generation of organisational talent. Our recent research with Forrester found that employees who are highly satisfied with their company’s data programmes are nearly twice as likely to stay for two to five years,”. 

"Today’s A-Level leavers are facing unique circumstances. As many weigh up taking their first step into the workforce against going into further education, they are forced to consider a trifecta of challenges - rising inflation, looming recession and an economic market whereby wages are declining and the jobs market is becoming increasingly unpredictable."