Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I Study About Hoomin Resource, Not HR!

Like most countries in the region, Sand Land requires private sector companies to hire a certain number of nationals. Cultivating a skilled, productive citizenry is a laudable goal. Let's face it, the oil isn't going to last forever and people here have grown accustomed to a cushy lifestyle.

The "Sand Landization" policy dictates that: (1) your company's payroll consist of a certain percentage of Sand Landians, and (2) you can hire only Sand Landians for certain positions (like receptionists, drivers and cashiers). Over the past few years, many of the academically suspect for-profit "universities" have started offering "diplomas" in fields like HR, marketing and accounting.

As you might expect, these operations are out to make a buck and don't want to develop a reputation for failing poor students - if the kids think you're hard, they might plunk down their tuition money at one of your competitors. But these institutions also need to demonstrate to would-be customers students that professional glory and riches await at the end of a course of study that, in reality, makes Sally Struthers' home study course on TV/VCR repair look like a neurologically taxing endeavor.  Enter the immigration department - which is now making it harder to hire foreign workers with backgrounds in HR, marketing and accounting.

When my long-serving HR manager moved back to India a few months ago, the immigration authorities predictably refused to re-issue her visa so I could hire another expat. Not to worry, I was told, there are many, many well qualified Sand Landians in need of gainful employment.

So I called the leading local institution of higher learning and asked them about recruiting alumni and before long, I found myself interviewing "Jim", who had graduated near the top of his class. The following is a faithful transcription of our interview:

Me: So Jim, congratulations on completing your HR degree.

Jim (furrowing brows, jerking head back indignantly): I study about hoomin resource, not this HR!

Me (looking from side to side): Um, aren't HR and human resources the same thing...you know, "H" for human, "R" for -

Jim (shaking head vehemently): No! Hoomin resource and HR are different. I study hoomin resource, not this HR. (flicks hand dismissively)

Me: Okaaay, I see. So tell me, what is human resources to you?

Jim: It's working in an office, typing in the computer, talking on the phone.

Me: I suppose you're right. Most HR people I've known have done those sorts of things in the course of a normal day. So Jim, what made you want to work in human resources."

Jim (suavely raising one eye brow and shrugging shoulders): To make the kesh.

Me (hoping my phone will ring): Yup, human resources is without a doubt one of the higher paying corporate disciplines.

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