HR designation should be truly national (Guest commentary)

Provincial changes to standards diminish CHRP’s value
By Ian Birney
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 06/14/2010

The Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation is a nationally recognized standard that says a number of things about those who have earned it:

• They prescribe to a standard body of knowledge.

• They adhere to the Canadian Council of Human Resources Associations’ (CCHRA) national code of ethics.

• They believe in continuous learning to ensure recertification.

But how can this be a nationally recognized designation when, provincially, there are differences for achievement?

In May, the National Professional Practice Assessment was written in Ontario for the last time. Going forward, the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) — Ontario’s HR association — has chosen to implement a “professional experience requirement” in place of the NPPA exam.

As it stands, Ontario and Quebec are now the only two provinces in Canada to not have national, standardized requirements to achieve the CHRP designation.

The HRPA said this change was spawned from a polling of the HRPA membership that found there was an overwhelming call to have an experience requirement implemented — so it was done.

No one will ever discount the value of hands-on practical experience in any field, let alone HR, but that is not the question.

The real question is this: Should implementing this kind of change be the responsibility of a provincial organization? If something of this magnitude is going to happen, shouldn’t this be the role of the CCHRA?

“The CCHRA is the national voice on the enhancement and promotion of the profession across Canada, through established and credible designations, collaborating on national issues related to the profession,” states the CCHRA website.

“In Ontario, HRPA regulates the HR profession and issues the Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation, the national standard for excellence in human resources management,” states the HRPA website.

In Quebec, the designation for the CHRP and the Certified Industrial Relations Counsellor is managed by L’Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines agréés. This is one of 45 professional associations or orders in Quebec that have more than 265,000 members. These orders have been mandated by law to ensure professionals in their particular field (not just HR) deliver the best possible services to the public.

It would sound as if all three of these organizations believe in a standard, credible designation that can be respected at a national level — but is that the reality?

If provincial organizations are allowed to meddle with the standards of achievement for a nationally recognized designation, what is the point in having one?

Furthermore, how does allowing such a practice contribute to our national unity?

Overall, the CHRP designation will only be strengthened and truly be seen as a nationally credible designation by having a national standard of achievement in every province.

Ian Birney is an HR co-ordinator working in the Greater Toronto Area.

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