Certification: Blowing our trumpet

Geoff De Lacy (FAHRILife)

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written on September 11, 2015

Over the past two or three decades the human resources profession has come a long way. HR is now a mainstream discipline taught at undergraduate and postgraduate levels in 35 Australian universities preparing students for the demands of a multitude of workplace challenges.

AHRI has played an instrumental role in evaluating the content and teaching of courses that lead to the qualifications gained by professionals who practise HR. But the fact remains that, in terms of publicly recognised professionalisation, HR is behind the eight ball compared to, say, accountants or more recently, IT professionals.

AHRI is currently promoting the benefits of a new certification framework that will expand HR capability and lift the status of the profession. A circuit around AHRI’s website demonstrates considerable effort and marketing strategy and serious value in being part of AHRI’s membership. But are we simply preaching to the converted?

Certification has never really been marketed effectively to the wider employer entities – we’ve never been able to get that right despite many years of involvement with the university and the VET sectors. The critical issue now hinges on how to communicate with and get recognition by employers of the value of employing HR practitioners who carry AHRI certification credentials. 

My belief is that money has to be spent. A concerted campaign aimed at major employers of HR practitioners that promulgates the benefits of employing HR professionals, is needed and overdue. It’s not simply a message that can sit on a website. A strategic communication plan that demonstrates the rigour of the AHRI certification standards is an imperative.

Given the multicultural character of Australia’s workforce, I believe it’s important that, among other capabilities, the certification model keeps abreast of cultural differences. If HR professionals want to work globally, as many do, an understanding of and ability to work with cultural differences, is critical. An HR practitioner who fails in this regard should not measure up as either professional or credible.

And the notion must finally be dispelled that typecasts HR professionals as financial illiterates. HR people who are serious about their career understand commercial and government business models. If they don’t, they will not be able to contribute to strategy with any authority. There are many senior HR people now who are on salaries in excess of $500,000 a year across a wide commercial field, and there are also HR consultants who earn in the magnitude of seven figure incomes.

But to earn that type of money and the associated recognition it brings, CEOs and boards are entitled to see professionals who are capable of clear strategic thinking, business and commercial acumen, and understanding of government, combined with above average analytical skills. AHRI’s certification model embodies qualities of that order within the knowledge, skills, capabilities and behaviours that candidates must demonstrate in order to be considered for certification.

In association with a mandatory continuous professional development (CPD) requirement, AHRI can lead the way in informing Australian employers that HR practitioners who are AHRI certified are experts in their field and maintain their professional currency. In addition, they are adept at operating as partners to the wider business.

Geoff De Lacy is a FAHRILife member.

This article is an edited version. The full article was first published in the September 2015 issue of HRMonthly magazine as ‘Blowing our trumpet’. AHRI members receive HRMonthly 11 times per year as part of their membership. Find out more about AHRI membership here

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