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Sunday, 01 July 2012 14:18

WMU to offer program focused on talent development

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KALAMAZOO — Western Michigan University plans to offer a new degree to complement the demands of companies looking for new skilled workers.

Starting in the fall, WMU will roll out its Master of Arts in Leadership for Organizational Learning and Performance program.

The program will focus heavily on change management as well as talent development and organization. The curriculum also features a focus track specific to talent acquisition and culture change.

"Human resources and performance development is a $16 billion industry," said Dr. Larry Buzas, the program director. "We joke that students can tell their friends they're learning how to not waste that money."

According to Buzas, there are two sides to the human resources industry: the transactional side and the transformational side. This program is meant to train students on the transformational side where performance development and work process improvements are the means to solutions, he said.

The new program can help enhance people with careers in business, government, education, health care and nonprofit industries, according to Buzas.

"From what we see out there in the workforce, this program seems to be aligning itself with the needs of the local industry," said Katherine Fyfe, manager of communication for the American Society of Training and Development. "Coming out of the recession, a lot of businesses are looking at their talent strategies and making sure they know how to attend to their development pipelines."

Deb Cohen, senior vice president of knowledge development for the Society of Human Resource Management, said these types of "tag" degrees, or offshoots of larger programs, are happening across the country.

"(This degree) doesn't surprise me at all," she said. "One of trends in (human resources) is that there is a lot of research that says you have to understand change, not just knowing the nuts and bolts, but understanding how it happens in organizations."

The new program takes the place of WMU's former Human Resources Development program. The Leadership for Organizational Learning and Performance program requires a minimum of 33 semester hours, including 24 semester credits within the core and nine semester credits of electives.

In addition to the main campus, courses will be offered at WMU's graduate campus in Grand Rapids.

Read 1656 times Last modified on Sunday, 29 July 2012 22:30

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