Thinking about HR certification? Here’s why it’s worth the work

HR certification
Steve Packer


written on December 13, 2016

The AHRI Practising Certification Program might seem like a leap into the unknown. Here, three practitioners say HR certification is a leap worth taking.

Catherine McLachlan MAHRI, Director, Workforce Analysis and Recruitment Programs, Department of Social Services, Canberra

When Catherine McLachlan heard about AHRI’s introduction of HR certification, she was fired-up with enthusiasm.

“My initial response was excitement,” she says, “because HR certification is something I’m passionate about. In both the public and private sectors, it’s important that HR professionals feel pride in their occupation and certification of HR is recognised as just as valid as certification of accountants and other skilled, qualified employees.”

But that isn’t the half of it. Completing the first three of the four units in the AHRI Practising Certification Program (APC) has had a direct impact on how McLachlan has gone about her daily work, and she’s looking forward to extending that impact with the applied project that constitutes the capstone fourth unit.

McLachlan, who has been working in HR for 10 years, says it’s the first tertiary study she has done that she can apply on the job and see immediate results.

“For example, my APC assignment addresses issues in our department about how we can link recruitment activity to a strategic agenda. I proposed four recommendations for changing the process, and we’ve already introduced three of those.”

As for unit four, McLachlan says she has pitched a proposal to her manager, which “involves one of the many issues on the back burner at work – but now we’re in a position to extend our resources to fix it. My applied project isn’t just a report, it’s something practical that will be enacted and implemented.”

McLachlan has a Bachelor of Psychology and a Graduate Diploma in Management, and is an accredited workplace coach.

She says APC facilitator Dr Kim Schofield, an AHRI Fellow and certified HR practitioner, was very effective in drawing out the less confident participants in the face-to-face APC workshops.

“I go home invigorated, thinking about what I’m going to do at work and what I’m bringing back to my team,” says McLachlan.

Margaret Cowan Affiliate AHRI Member, Assistant Director, HR, Department of Human Services, Canberra

“I feel privileged to have undertaken the Australian Public Service pilot of the AHRI Practising Certification Program (APC). In particular, the facilitator-led workshops, run by Kim Schofield. Kim drew on his wealth of academic and real work experience. Also, being able to spend time with other HR professionals from across the Australian government, has allowed me to access new ideas and approaches and to share my own experiences.”

Cowan says the course assessment tasks, comprised of best practice research and its application to the workplace, have required her to critically analyse HR strategies within her own department for their efficiency and effectiveness.

“I have become much more aware of HR challenges organisation-wide, rather than just in my specific role, challenging current processes and procedures. I have become a more well-rounded HR professional as a result.”

Cowan, who has a Bachelor of Management with an HR major, has been working in HR for six years. Her previous general manager nominated her to undertake the HR certification program.

Due to her commencing maternity leave in May, she was unable to participate in unit three. However, she was able to fulfil the unit’s requirements through Recognised Prior Learning.

“AHRI has been very supportive and provided me with options to ensure that I can still complete the APC,” she says. She has deferred the work-based applied project required for unit four so she can undertake it on her return to work.

Maureen Gerlach CAHRI, HR Manager, Shire of Mundaring, Perth

Even though Maureen Gerlach is well qualified for the Senior Leaders Pathway to HR certification, she has chosen to undertake the APC’s assessment tasks and workshops.

“I’m getting close to the end of my HR career. If you haven’t formally studied HR for a long time, you’re not necessarily fully appraised of current practice.”

Gerlach, who has been an HR manager for 15 years, says everybody can learn more, no matter how experienced. “There’s the opportunity to look at things in different ways, and continue to improve the way you go about your work.”

Having just completed unit one, she says its focus on strategic skills has been particularly valuable to her.

“It’s an area that most people could do with developing; you tend to fall into patterns and selectively read what you think is most salient to you. I’m already starting to think more broadly.”

Gerlach’s introduction to HR came in the late 1970s when she was working in the disability sector in a role that evolved into “training the trainers” and staff development.

Other benefits of taking the APC route include confirming the good work her team has already done at the shire, as well as identifying areas where improvements can be made.

Start your HR certification journey with the AHRI Practising Certification Program or use the HR Certification Pathfinder.

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