Two groups are working hard to keep HR industry standards high in Australia. AHRI CEO Lyn Goodear identifies the people, organisations and institutions that certify Australian HR courses, as well as practitioners.
In July, I had the good fortune to attend, as an observer, AHRI’s National Accreditation Committee (NAC) when it met in Melbourne. The accreditation committee has been operating since 2004 following a request by the Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management to perform the accrediting function for human resources courses in the tertiary sector. Since then, the NAC has accredited a total of 110 HR courses from 35 universities.
When it meets annually, the NAC typically accredits a proportion of applications submitted to it, requests other applicants to make adjustments pending accreditation, and invites other applicants to resubmit in response to the committee’s feedback. At the meeting I attended, the committee reviewed 29 applications. Of those, it accredited 19, called for amendments from nine, and invited one to resubmit at a later date.
Under its chair, Professor Alan Nankervis, members of the NAC represent stakeholder groups from academia, industry and AHRI’s elected state councils.
Tertiary institutions use the imprimatur of AHRI accreditation to promote the HR courses they offer to their student cohorts. We see the curriculum and standards set in those courses as critical to building the skills and knowledge of future HR practitioners.
I mention AHRI’s accreditation committee as a reminder that AHRI routinely performs the HR credentialing function for the tertiary sector. I also mention it because since last year, AHRI has established another credentialing body in the form of the National Certification Council (NCC).
The thing that the NAC and the NCC have in common is that they set industry standards and review applications against those standards.
The central distinction between the two bodies is that the NAC has the remit to accredit courses that are operated by universities and VET providers. In contrast, the NCC certifies individual HR practitioners who are seeking to become AHRI certified as part of the global push to set the bar for entry to an occupational group whose status as a ‘profession’ is – and always has been – problematic.
Today, there is no bar to entry for a person who wants to set up business as an HR practitioner. Two regrettable facts follow from that state of affairs. One is that anyone can claim to be an HR practitioner. The other is that the market perception in many quarters is that anyone can do HR.
That doesn’t prevent competent people performing well in the role. Fortunately many do, and I’m pleased to say that a significant proportion of those good performers are AHRI members. However, it also means there are plenty of inept practitioners, and the market has no way of knowing the difference between good and bad performers other than by trial and error.
In 2014, AHRI made the decision to remedy that malaise, and we have since set up a framework to put HR on a footing alongside other certified professionals such as accountants, lawyers, medical practitioners and engineers. We have also established three rigorous pathways to HR certification, and the National Certification Council conferred the first group of candidates with the status of Certified HR Practitioner in February this year. A second group will come before the NCC this month.
Certification is the future that will transform HR into a fully accepted profession that is taken seriously by business. And it’s happening now, so make sure you are part of it.
To learn more about HR certification and choosing the right HR courses and pathway for you, click here.