An insight into the future of the profession - the student voice

Peter Cheese, Chief Executive, CIPD.

When we consider the future of the people profession, it’s important we engage with and listen to those coming into the profession. Students studying for CIPD qualifications will bring new expectations, ideas and career aspirations. We know they will be looking ahead to many of the key themes that will play a huge part in the years to come, from digital transformation to embedding inclusion and culture change, flexible working and new operating models. But what do today’s students see and want from their future profession?

Over the past five weeks, we’ve been conducting weekly surveys with full-time, Masters-level HRM students, asking them questions on topics including programme entry motivations, early career aspirations, career progression and future trends for the profession. We will use these insights and perspectives to help us build a clear understanding of what students expect from the profession and how it can continue to develop and grow.

Students are the future of the people profession

Through our work and insights on the People Profession now and the future, we aim to equip and inspire people professionals to position themselves at the heart of business, to drive positive change and shape the future of work. To do that, we need to understand what people professionals at all career stages think and feel. This piece of research adds to that by giving students a voice and a platform, not just within their professional body, but in the profession more broadly, with the opportunity to help influence the requirements for the future.

One of the key findings from the survey shows that 47% of current HR students are most attracted to the profession to make a positive contribution to people’s working lives. It’s wonderful to see many of those entering the profession with an ambition to make a difference. This is very valuable to businesses and HR teams recruiting future talent, and I’m sure this also resonates with many of our members who entered the profession with a similar passion.

Helping the profession plan for change

The findings from this student research also provide insight into how HR students want to be able to work in the future. The survey showed that 74% of our future HR professionals would prefer some form of flexible working in their future career, with a further 62% voting for hybrid or blended working arrangements. These insights are similar to the trends we’re currently seeing in working practices for the wider workforce.

The past year was an exceptional year for us all, and people professionals found themselves at the heart of organisational responses to the pandemic. The pandemic forced us to rapidly adapt, and much has been learnt that must now be built upon to solidify for the future of the profession. Equipping our profession with the capabilities needed to continue operating at the highest standard is of utmost importance.

I encourage you to read the full insights from our career expectations and aspirations for future people professionals survey. I do hope you will find it of interest and that you may begin to think more about what we can collectively and individually do to future proof our profession.

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  • A small sample size but a valuable report.  Used it when I presented to the Isle of Man CIPD Branch last week.  I was asked to cover CPD and the Profession Map - it was a timely addition to my presentation!!

  • A crucial study on the future aspirations of the current masters level Talent / HR students in top UK universities truly depicting the importance of Inclusion and the desire to make positive contribution to the work life balance of employees in the current world scenario. Thanks for doing this! :) really valuable