HRM TV: Why certification and professionalisation matters in HR

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written on July 3, 2015

Too often, HR is seen as a ‘soft skill set’, but today’s complex workplaces demand more from HR personnel than ever before.

Catherine Cahill, a workplace relations specialist with Worksense, talks about what individuals can do to better prepare themselves for future HR challenges, as well as the drive to professionalise the industry. According to her, if HR is to continue developing as a profession, there needs to be more movement towards technical skill development, standardised practices and certification for practitioners.

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14 thoughts on “HRM TV: Why certification and professionalisation matters in HR

  1. I can understand the above and AHRI’s certification program from the perspective of undergraduates without experience or experienced practitioners moving into HR, but I’m wondering what AHRI’s position is on practitioners who currently hold CAHRI status, along with a post-grad qualification in HR and have extensive experience in the field. At this stage of my career, if I had a choice between re-certifying as CAHRI and doing some other professional development, I’d be more likely to pursue the latter. I’d appreciate any advice AHRI can provide.

    1. Existing CAHRI members will retain their membership grading via a grandfathering arrangement. However, from 1 January 2017 members wanting to become certified will only be able to do so through completing the AHRI Practising Certification Program (APC).

      Recognition of prior learning (RPL) and work experience can apply and, if it does, you will only need to complete the final 4th Capstone unit to become certified.

      1. I think this is a great idea for new AHRI members or those wishing to upgrade their membership.

        I do however concur with Andrew and Lynden (and others). I accept the ‘grand fathering’ clause has given some consideration to existing CAHRI members, however I too agree it hasn’t gone far enough. I have been a CAHRI member (and in the industry) for a long time and believe the RPL framework (with cost and tasks attached) doesn’t go far enough. I won’t be taking up the offer – because unlike Lynden I do have a choice.

        I see no value in it for me and in fact I believe my professional body has let me down on this issue.

    2. I’d have to agree with you Andrew. I’m a current CAHRI member with a double Undergraduate Degree in Law, a Post-Graduate Diploma and a Masters in HR and extensive experience in both small and large corporations working specifically at an HR management and business partnering level. I absolutely agree that HR is a profession that is more than simply soft-skills based and requires application at an academic level. I have to say though that after 12 years of high quality, rigorous tertiary study, to say I still need to complete a ‘capstone unit’ at a cost of $1500 to prove to people that I have the requisite competency to do my job is a little bit much. I’ll do it – because I guess I have no choice.

      I don’t want to look like I’m criticising AHRI because I’m absolutely on board with what they are doing, but I think perhaps they could have looked a little more closely at previous study and experience to determine the cut-off for requiring additional certification.

    3. I agree with you Andrew. I have an undergrad degree and am more interested in going to a post grad than certification. I think its important for the industry to seek expertise from out of the industry – for so may reasons.

  2. The requirement for soft skills are a requirement for all employees.

    Kind regards,

    Adrian Totolos.
    Business Analyst.

  3. I would have to say I agree with Andrew. I’m a current CAHRI member with 25 years of HR experience across a variety of industries and in a variety of workplaces of different sizes. I have a couple of Cert IVs and a Diploma but no Degree (shame on me it seems – what HAVE I been doing with my time?). What I do have is intelligence and a raft of wonderful experience in different areas of HR and the ability to translate that into action.

    I now live and work in regional NSW with next to no exposure to AHRI because it is largely city-based and travelling to Sydney takes me away from my workplace for days and days at a time – hardly beneficial to my work or the business. I undertake short courses and seminars when I can, I read a lot, and I attend one industry-specific HR and WR conference each year as well as one general management conference which not only keeps me current with HR and other management goings-on in the industry but also allows me to network appropriately.

    The organisation I work for is not for profit and would not in any way benefit from me undertaking a higher level of tertiary study in HR, and neither would I. I fully understand the need for HR to be at the business table, and I am currently. Last time I looked I was also contributing and making a difference, so I ask (with the utmost respect) is all this education really benefiting the HR profession as a whole? Does it really mean that HR is contributing more to the business? A bit like Andrew, if given the opportunity I would probably opt for alternative professional development to complete my non-HR knowledge gaps rather than complete certification in order to put a tick in a box.

    And what happens then to the soft skills? Are they forgotten and neglected? You can’t teach soft-skills or learn them in a Degree or any other course. Have we lost sight of the fact that at the end of the day, human resources is about humans and the contribution they make or am I just way behind the times?

  4. I am in agreement with the concerns of Andrew and Lynden.

    Whilst I can possibly see the potential for the introduction of the certification, it is a major financial cost that not all employers will be willing to support. Therefore for HR practitioners who have already completed tertiary qualification and possibly postgraduate level education, the cost and time burden of completing this qualification will not be attractive. For me personally I am currently in the late stages of completing an MBA and completing this qualification would only be to tick a box.

    Whilst the majority of CAHRI level practitioners may only have to complete the 1 cornerstone unit, AHRI expect a $1500 payment to be made for RPL in addition to the cornerstone units fee. That is a significant sum to pay just for recognition of learning that has been already been gained either practically or through another institution.

    I also don’t wish to be critical of the program as I can see potential value, but I wish that a further review would be conducted into how the program can add value for current CAHRI level members and particularly into the steep cost for RPL.

  5. I understood that if you’re an existing CAHRI level practitioner then you maintained this status but those who are new to becoming CAHRI will need to complete the training, RPL, Capstone unit. So if you’re already CAHRI nothing should change. If this is not the case then I agree with the comments above, but this was what I understood to be the case.

  6. I agree with most of the comments above. I also am just finishing a Masters in HR and am a CAHRI member. Together with an undergrad Qualification, Masters, multiple other seminars, workshops etc and 20 years experience in HR I believe that the learning & experience I have had would more than cover off the fourth unit. I think more thought needs to go into not having a “one rule fits all” attitude in being granted certification.

    I fully believe in & support the certification program, I do think it is needed, especially for those new into HR or for those that don’t have any qualifications in the field already. It may even serve as a good refresher for those that have completed their studies 10 years or more ago.

    Perhaps it could be a case of having an interview or providing references for those that have ticked a number of boxes instead of completing the fourth unit. HR is all about problem solving, it is never black or white and rarely does one solution fit all cases. It would be great if more thought can go into developing different solutions to fit the different scenarios that will present.

  7. Good discussion. I have been unable to achieve post-graduate qualifications in Employment Law even at a Certificate Level with relevance to Queensland legislation. I do not have a Law Degree. This is a significant “TECHNICAL SKILL” most HR practitioners are likely to require. I have 25 years in the industry.

  8. I completely agree with many of you above. As a practitioner with almost 20 years experience and degrees in HR at Masters Level, I would rather spend my PD dollars on much more targeted learning programs.

    The grandfathering arrangements are insufficient and I will be seriously considering whether to renew my membership of almost 20 years or to let it go….

  9. I have over ten years experience in HR, have undertaken one Masters in Management (major HR) and am one subject away from completing a Masters in Employment Relations. Looking at the requirements I will have to undertake further study which I feel is not necessary. I am onboard with what AHRI is doing however I don’t feel I should have to undertake further study for certification when I have the experience and will have two master degrees completed.

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