CHRP not the only game in town (Guest Commentary)

IPMA designations recognized worldwide

This issue of Canadian HR Reporter dedicated a lot of space to the debate around the importance of certification for HR professionals.

Certification is becoming more important as organizations realize the importance of good HR management as a key factor to business success, especially in attracting and retaining talent. More and more, the HR professional is expected to become a business partner and strategist.

To perform this role, HR professionals are looking for options to develop their learning capacity and they are exploring certification programs to acquire a designation that is recognized both in the profession and by employers.

Many HR professionals assume the Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation is the only HR professional designation. But there is another option available through the International Personnel Management Association-Canada (IPMA). That option is IPMA-Certified Professional (IPMA-CP) or IPMA-Certified Specialist (IPMA-CS).

The IPMA-CP designation recognizes individuals for their broad knowledge, experience and expertise at the mastery or journey level in the various technical HR skill areas identified. The IPMA-CS designation recognizes mastery level knowledge, experience and expertise for a total of five years in one of the various technical HR skill areas identified. Both these designations are recognized in the United States and worldwide through connections with the International Personnel Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR).

The foundation for the IPMA-Canada certification program is the IPMA HR competency model. The competency model promotes HR excellence by encouraging professional growth in areas that ensure top performance. Top performers tend to excel in four diverse roles: HR expert, business partner, change agent and HR leader. Candidates applying for the designation must have a minimum combination of education and experience in the HR field, demonstrate mastery and journey level competencies in various HR management technical areas and successfully complete the competency exam. After being awarded the designation, the HR professional is expected to recertify every three years. This process is based on a number of factors including professional development and demonstrated leadership in the HR community.

Some HR professionals see certification programs as “cash cows” for professional organizations. But the costs are quite reasonable. For the IPMA designations, there is a one-time certification application fee of $200. The cost for a four-day workshop and exam is about $550 or the exam can be written without the workshop for about $200. The exam can also be done online for $160.

There is no recertification fee, but HR professionals with the designation are required to remain members of IPMA at a cost of about $175 per year, consisting of $100 to $125 in membership fees (depending on the chapter) and a $50 annual renewal fee for the designation.

Employers are increasingly giving preference in job postings to candidates who possess professional designations. This is true not only in private industry, but also within the public sector. Recently job postings for public-sector HR professionals in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador have indicated that preference will be given to candidates who possess an HR professional designation. It is clearly the direction employers will take to ensure they have leading edge HR professionals. Certification establishes a sort of shorthand for knowing who is up for the challenges facing HR. Certification identifies qualified HR practitioners, ensures recognition of their expertise and assists in professional development and self improvement by establishing a critical body of knowledge and high standards.

Interest in the certification program from the HR community, as well as from the business community, is growing. Applicants to the program are increasing each year with certified professionals continuing to praise the training program that focuses on the change agent, business partner, HR leader and HR expert.

For prospective employers, certification provides an efficient and objective measure to determine the qualifications of the candidate. For the individual HR practitioner, certification is a portable, reputable and rigorous distinction that helps build the practitioner’s career. Both the IPMA-CP and CS and the CHRP programs are available for consideration by the human resource professional.

Glenn Saunders is the director of strategic human resource management with the Social Sector HR Group of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and past-president of IPMA-Canada. He can be reached at (709) 729-5102 or [email protected].

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