What are your thoughts on CHRP? (Editor’s notes)

Opening a dialogue on Ontario's new HR experience requirement
By Todd Humber
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 06/02/2009

Few things in the HR community garner as much attention as the Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation.

Stories we write about it are among the top ones viewed on Canadian HR Reporter’s website. Surveys we conduct about the designation invariably draw the most responses. There’s only one conclusion to be drawn from that: HR practitioners care very deeply about their designation, and have strong opinions on the subject.

The decision by Ontario’s HR association to drop the National Professional Practice Assessment (NPPA) exam is significant, to say the least. (For full details of what the Human Resources Professional Association is doing, see “HRPA phasing out CHRP experience exam.”)

And it’s controversial. To get the CHRP in Ontario, HR practitioners will need a minimum of three years of “professional experience” — defined by the HRPA as “work activities where an individual exercises direct responsibility and accountability for the strategy, design, implementation and co-ordination of one or more human resources functional areas for an extended period of time with limited or minimum supervision.”

If you don’t have three years’ experience doing that, you’re not getting the CHRP.

So why is the HRPA pursuing this? It’s to increase the credibility and value of the designation. Those are very laudable goals.

The HRPA says it, in part, relied on information gleaned from a Pulse Survey it conducted, in partnership with Canadian HR Reporter, which found the vast majority (77.7 per cent) of 3,165 HR practitioners who responded thought provincial HR associations should introduce an experience requirement. The same survey also found an even stronger majority (79.5 per cent) thought it would enhance the value of the CHRP. (The survey was published in the May 4 issue.)

But we need to go beyond the survey. There are a lot of questions it didn’t ask, or answer, that are very relevant. It didn’t ask if the NPPA should be scrapped entirely. It didn’t ask if Ontario should act on its own, ditching the exam while other provinces kept it.

It didn’t pose other alternatives. Monica Belcourt, an HR academic at York University in Toronto, questioned whether the CHRP should have any kind of experience component whatsoever. Maybe it should be focused on basic, functional HR knowledge and nothing else — pass the National Knowledge Exam and you’re good to go.

Another idea on the table would be to replace — or supplement — the experience requirement with an exam testing knowledge of applicable provincial or federal employment standards legislation. After all, that’s one of the core areas where HR professionals should be bona fide experts. What about other aspects of employment law, such as what the common law says about reasonable notice?

The CHRP is a young, evolving designation. The HRPA’s move is a bold step designed to bring it more credibility. It also provides the HR community the opportunity to step back, think about and talk about its designation. What should it include? What shouldn’t it? And should other provinces follow Ontario’s lead and replace the NPPA with an experience assessment?

Canadian HR Reporter wants your thoughts on this very important topic. We think it’s critical to have a discussion about the changes to the CHRP, and what it means for HR practitioners in Ontario and across the country. Please send letters to the editor, or thoughts and opinions, on the HRPA’s move to me at todd.humber@thomsonreuters.com and we’ll publish them in future editions.

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