SIM University (UniSIM) will become the first of Singapore's six universities to launch a human resource (HR) management degree next year, to plug a gap in the training of HR personnel.
Its provost Tsui Kai Chong said the programmes at the other local universities are general business degrees with a specialisation in HR. Students typically take between five and eight courses in HR.
In comparison, UniSim's course is a full-fledged one, offering 15 modules in HR, he said.
These include employment law and industrial relations, training and development - which is being emphasised in Singapore - as well as human capital metrics, or measurements used to determine the value and effectiveness of HR strategies, he added.
The new degree will help meet a need: Surveys have shown that more than half of HR managers here have qualifications in a non-related field.
Welcoming the new UniSIM course, Singapore Human Resources Institute president Erman Tan cited the institute's 2010 survey where 40 per cent of HR managers polled said they lacked formal education in the field.
He said: "Traditionally, HR was seen as a support function in a business. HR professionals were mostly concerned with hiring and firing, compensation, training, security, safety and so on.
"But now, companies see talented and committed employees as a key advantage, and knowledgeable HR professionals have an important role to play in ensuring that the most effective strategies are adopted to manage talent for companies."
The degree, which will take in 40 students for the first year, is the fourth full-time degree course offered by the university.
UniSIM, which received 1,500 applications for the 200 places in its first three full-time degree programmes launched this year, also plans to increase its intake for two of them.
The marketing degree course was oversubscribed by 14 times this year. The university will increase its intake from 60 this year to 80 next year. For accountancy, the intake will go up from 100 to 120. This will remain at 40 for finance.
The HR management course will be taught like the other three degree courses, said Professor Tsui.
There will be no lectures and tutorials. Instead, students will be required to read the material and listen to lectures online before going to class ready to take part in discussions.
They will also study minor modules such as psychology and sociology in evening classes alongside working adults on part-time degree courses.
UniSIM also plans to get students career-ready by requiring them to do longer and more substantial work attachments.
Singapore Polytechnic business graduate Philip Tan, 21, who just completed national service, is keen to take up the new course.
"I think there is value in doing a specialised degree rather than a general business degree.
"I am a people person and I find human resource management an interesting area," he said.
This article was first published on Dec 5, 2014.
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