Pages Menu

University industrial relations are so last century, Lee Hecht Harrison

Posted on Mar 29, 2017

Fuelled by uncertain funding models, rigid workforce systems and changing student demands, universities are exploring how to remain relevant in an increasingly differentiated and global education market.

In January 2016, the Australian Higher Education Industrial Association (AHEIA) released a report titled Higher Education Workforce of the Future, outlining the upcoming challenges to be faced by the tertiary sector in the next 10 to 15 years.

One of the main conclusions from the report was that there is an urgent necessity for a flexible education workforce ready to adapt to the changing market conditions. Whilst the report was a great beginning to this dialogue, we felt that more needed to be discussed in relation to the practicality of such a transformation.

Lee Hecht Harrison conducted interviews with key leaders in the sector from major Australian and New Zealand universities to determine how well equipped universities are for the changing structure and to identify areas which need to be reformed.

The report also contains chapters from invited authors who provide insights from within the sector as well as from private enterprise.

Under the editorship of Dr Rod Gutierrez, Director of Higher Education Strategy at LHH, this publication discusses the requisite elements of the tertiary sector transformation ‘we have to have’ from an applied and implementation-focused standpoint.

Primary research was conducted with key leaders (vicechancellors, deputy vice-chancellors, human resources (HR) directors (HRDs) and other leaders in the sector, elucidating the requirements and readiness for implementing a significant transformation agenda.

In addition, chapters from highly credentialed authors in the publication discuss the issues further and provide unique insights. This substantive piece of work is followed by a set of recommendations that provide practical and wide-ranging considerations for the sector.

This sector is currently trying to balance a variety of stakeholder interests and needs to make fundamental choices to ensure its sustainability.

This publication provides an opportunity for university executives to reflect on the future state— addressing the ‘what to transform into?’ question, and to undertake a gap analysis in regards to the current versus future capability, competence and capacity to implement transformation— addressing the ‘how do we get there?’ question.

Lee Hecht Harrison (LHH) is a global human capital consulting company with a substantial footprint in the Australian higher education sector. For copies of the report go to