RPCs for CHRP under review

New entry-level designation a possibility: CCHRA
By Amanda Silliker
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 04/08/2013

The required professional capabilities (RPCs) for obtaining the Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation are currently undergoing an in-depth review, according to Antoinette Blunt, chair of the standards advisory committee for the Canadian Council of Human Resources Associations (CCHRA).

“We wanted to make sure that not only did we link with the body of knowledge in the current requirements of the profession in HR in Canada, but that we also captured and anticipated what future professional practice requirements would be,” she said.

The RPCs describe the knowledge, skills and abilities a competent HR professional must possess to be successful in the Canadian HR landscape today. Right now, there are 187 RPCs that fall into seven functional areas:

• professional practice in HR

• organizational effectiveness

• staffing

• employee and labour relations

• total compensation

• organizational learning, training and development

• occupational health, safety and wellness.

These previously underwent a review in 2007 but just minor changes were made, said Claude Balthazard, Toronto-based regulatory advisor to CCHRA and vice-president, regulatory affairs for the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA).

“It’s a bit more important this time because we didn’t do it for a long time. The 2007 review was just kind of a more superficial update to the 1998 (review) so, in terms of a fresh, complete look, we haven’t done it in 15 years,” he said. “So we’re catching up a bit.”

A professional practice analysis panel, made up of senior HR professionals from across Canada, was formed in the fall to review the RPCs.

“We’ve been meeting to discuss what the needs are for the profession. We’ve been looking at the profession from various career-appropriate levels, from entry and beyond, so we can look at the continuum of required competencies and functional dimensions,” said Blunt, who is based in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

Over the last five or six years, the HR profession has evolved quickly to keep up with the demands of the world of business and it’s important to ensure professionals have the necessary knowledge and skill to keep up with the
evolution, she said.

For example, technology, human resources information systems (HRIS), teleworking, legislation and social media have all evolved significantly over the years, said Pierre Simoneau, president of the Human Resources Association of New Brunswick (HRANB) in Moncton, N.B.

“Social media was basically non-existent 10 years ago, except for email, but with the advent of smartphones and new platforms, communication has become a much broader area in terms of how it’s done, when it’s done,” he said.

Another reason for the review was for CCHRA to look at whether or not there would be a need for a new designation, said Blunt.

Due to the recently implemented university degree requirement and the three-year experience assessment, the CHRP has evolved into a designation no longer suitable for entry-level professionals or ones who are practising HR at the technical level without a university degree, she said.

“We really feel there is a need for a new designation that would capture that,” she said. “(It would) certainly elevate the practice of the profession by providing support and designating professionals that practise at different levels of the profession.”

In reviewing the RPCs, the panel started with a clean slate, said Blunt, and it did not reference the previous model.

“We wanted to be very open-minded and come up with something that was really current, really identified the current issues and emerging trends, so we tried not to prejudice our position even as panel members.”

Some RPCs will be comparable to the ones already in place, while others will be “kind of new or structured differently,” said Balthazard.

“HR is HR and you’ll certainly recognize most of it… but people will notice that it’s a different framework,” he said.

While the RPCs are not yet finalized, the panel has come up with what they feel are the knowledge and skill requirements of the different areas of practice. These requirements are currently being reviewed by HR professionals, CEOs, business leaders and academics across Canada, said Blunt.

“So there will be further refinement of what we’ve developed.”

In April, CCHRA — which is comprised of eight provincial member associations that count a total membership of 36,000 — is launching a survey for all members. It is also opening up the survey to HR professionals who are not members, said Balthazard.

“Not all HR professionals have a designation and not all are members of one of the professional associations, so the idea is we’re not excluding an HR professional from having a voice — if you are an HR professional, your voice is welcome,” he said.

The survey will be asking respondents to validate the ideas of the panel in terms of what’s included in the human resources profession today, said Balthazard

“The survey asks: ‘Do you do this? How important is this task to your job? Is it required to do your job?’” he said. “It’s not meant to be theoretical or ‘What do you think HR professionals should do? What do you think the profession should be?’ It’s about, ‘What do you do?’”

Once feedback is gathered from the focus groups and the survey, the panel will review it and make further amendments to the RPCs working document at a meeting in May, said Blunt. A report of the findings and recommendations will be presented to CCHRA’s board of directors in July along with a draft implementation plan. Changes to the RPCs and related processes will be implemented upon approval from the board, she said.

The changes mainly impact the certification of new HR professionals, as they form the test specifications for the National Knowledge Exam (NKE).

This will also impact what takes place at learning institutions, as colleges and universities need to “gear themselves up as well for what is changing,” said Simoneau.

A lot of textbooks have started to reference RPCs so those will also need to be updated.

“Once you define what the knowledge and skills and other abilities are to be current in the practice of HR, then you want to make sure whatever education and support is out there (is current),” said Blunt.

Changes to the RPCs also have an impact on the activities HR professionals must complete as part of the CHRP recertification process.

“We will be looking at the component of the recertification requirement — what those standards are, what can you do to recertify — and it will be rolled out to ensure that those requirements match up with whatever the changes are that are identified in the RPCs,” said Blunt.

Going forward, the RPCs will be reviewed every five years, she said.

“We want to make sure we maintain that currency and maintain that focus on identifying new trends, so we will continue to commit — this is an evolving process.”

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