Supervised practicum not necessary: Survey

But requirement could test knowledge of young professionals

Most HR professionals don’t think there should be a supervised practicum as part of the Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation, according to the latest Pulse Survey.

The survey of 2,009 Canadian HR Reporter readers and members of the Human Resources Professionals Association found just 33.4 per cent of respondents thought a supervised practice requirement would make the designation better, while 52.5 per cent said it wouldn’t improve the designation. Even more — 56.7 per cent — thought there shouldn’t be such a requirement at all.

As the requirements for the CHRP keep changing — candidates will need a university degree as of 2011 and Ontario has introduced a three-year experience requirement — a supervised practicum would just make it harder for people to enter the profession, said Sarah Gayer, an HR instructor at the University of Toronto and Sheridan College in Oakville, Ont.

“Once again, we’re putting barriers up for people getting their CHRP,” she said. “As we continue to put up more barriers, what is that going to do to the profession?”

While many full-time HR programs include a work placement, which could meet the practicum requirement, such a policy isn’t possible for students who are getting their degrees or diplomas part time, said Gayer.

Many students who are doing the program part time also work full time and wouldn’t be able to leave their jobs for an HR placement, she said.

Of those respondents who wanted a supervised practicum, most (47 per cent) thought it should be for one year, followed by six months (28 per cent), two years (21 per cent) and more than two years (five per cent).

Another way to set up the practicum is to stagger out the evaluation over several years, with two weeks each year for a total of six weeks of supervision, said Barbara Adams, who runs an independent HR consulting firm in Vancouver.

And as long as there was a consistent evaluation method of candidates’ on-the-job performance, a supervised practicum would most certainly benefit the designation and make it more valuable to employers, she said.

“I’ve heard concern expressed that people have the educational knowledge but they don’t have the practical application of that knowledge. I think a practicum could test some of the application of that knowledge versus just leaving it at the theoretical level. Therefore, you would be more assured that individuals could actually apply the knowledge that they had gained through their education,” she said.

On the other hand, if the evaluation was purely subjective, then it would hurt the validity of the practicum and, as a result, the designation, said Adams.

However, even if the requirement would be a benefit to the designation, it might be hard to implement. Nearly one-third (29.5 per cent) of respondents said it would be so hard to find enough CHRP holders to act as supervisors — even if they were to receive recertification credits — that such a program wouldn’t be practical. Another 23.9 per cent said it would be difficult and 22.5 per cent said it would be somewhat of a problem, but manageable.

Only 11.7 per cent said it wouldn’t be a problem to find enough designation holders.

In order to ensure consistent evaluation, the supervisors would need to be trained, said Adams, which might make it harder to find people willing to take on the responsibility.

Giving recertification points might make it easier to find volunteers, as could reaching out to older professionals or retirees who might have more time to spare, she said.

Two in five respondents said they would be willing to supervise a CHRP candidate for two hours a month, without pay, while 35.3 per cent said they would not be willing to do so.

A supervised practical requirement wouldn’t benefit the designation because it is too subjective, said Gina Maddalena, an HRIS specialist with Allen Vanguard in Ottawa. But if such a requirement were to exist, she would volunteer her time to supervise a CHRP candidate and expect many other professionals to do the same.

“Everyone wants to help with their profession,” she said.

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