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Skills and competencies for the contemporary human resource practitioner: A synthesis of the academic, industry and employers’ perspectives

New developments in technologies and global changes in business environment have placed demands on the HR professionals to acquire new competencies and skills. The role of Human Resources Management (HRM) and the Human Resources practitioner has long been discussed within the walls of academia and in the practical work environment. “Over time, the HR practitioner has taken on new roles and responsibilities in order to meet increasing expectations around the value-add of the Human Resource (HR) function and its legitimacy within the workplace. In order to take on new and adaptable roles, those looking at working in HR need specific skills and competencies” (Girardi, 2014A). This study set to identify the technical and generic skills and competencies needed to be a contemporary HR practitioner from three different perspectives – the academic literature, the practitioner (industry-based) literature and the potential employer. A comprehensive literature review was undertaken to analyse the perspectives of the academics. To peep into the professional perspective, a critical review of the HR generalist, HR specific associations and HR consulting firms was carried out. Finally, a desktop research of various HR related advertisements, helped to identify the employers’ perspectives. The key skills identified include: ability to build effective relationships, influence, negotiate and lead effectively. The findings revealed that scholarly journals do not identify the “project management” skills required by HR practitioner. The professional literature synthesis also did not capture the theme of “change steward”. The employers’ perspective also excluded the “change steward” and “global acumen” themes. The breadth and depth of the identified themed skills will result in the HR practitioner requiring further education in other business fields or training and experience in fields such as financial, marketing and information technology. Employers will place significant value on its HR practitioner as a strategic business partner (the identified theme) for its business. The perspective identified from three different viewpoints should help HR professional to take initiative in excelling in many areas especially knowledge beyond the traditional HR practices.