by Wilfred Yang
By now, most HR professionals in Singapore would have heard about the National HR certification framework. Here are my personal thoughts on the framework.
Why bother to be certified?
This is probably the first question that comes to mind. When I first discussed this with a peer, his immediate thoughts was why he needed an independent body to assess his HR competency. However, while preparing for the work experience submission, I found that the process was a good way to identify other areas of growth. I urge anyone who intends to sit for the certification to approach this from a development angle.
The Employment Act (EA) and Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA) does not apply to my work environment. Would I be disadvantaged during the assessment?
These were my thoughts when I first learnt that the assessment format involved assessing my knowledge in these statutory acts. On hindsight, this may not be a bad thing. Singaporeans are increasing becoming vocal and the expectations of public service is higher than before. In this context, I think it is no longer sufficient to brush issues aside by stating that the EA (or EFMA) does not apply to public agencies. Both the EA and EFMA lay out baseline expectations and knowing what these expectations are will also help in designing better manpower policies. This is another good reason why I came to appreciate the assessment as I would not place a priority in understanding the acts under normal circumstances.
What if my organisation already has a career and learning roadmap for HR?
The National HR framework covers the key HR functional areas and also includes competencies in the area of analytics and technology and operational excellence. It should therefore complement existing HR learning roadmaps. Needless to say, this framework will benefit organisations that does not already have a HR competency roadmap for their HR staff.
Areas for Improvement
There were some areas that I thought the Institute for Human Resource Professionals (IHRP), a body that will now be responsible for implementing the certification framework, could further deliberate upon.
Structured Education: 150 hours of structured education/training is a criterion for application, while 60 hours of verifiable professional development is a criterion for re-certification. However, I felt this may be a little rigid in light of several learning channels available today such as online videos, podcasts, networking, mentoring, and coaching. Even reading may be an effective way to acquire new knowledge. Depending on the learning pattern of the individual, some of these may be more effective than formal structured classroom type training. Furthermore, a HR professional that has been in the profession for a long while may not find a training programme beneficial to his development and may just attend one to clock the necessary hours for re-certification.
Paper B: This is a scenario based multiple choice question paper. However, my opinion is that while the answer for some of the questions may be clear-cut, there are other solutions that may be more dependent on the experiences that each individual is exposed to. Given that different organisations may approach issues in different ways, a HR professional may be penalised for selecting the “wrong” answer when it made perfect sense to them to select answer choice.
The National HR certification framework is certainly a positive step forward. The challenge will be whether the framework is nimble enough to keep up with new business conditions that may have impact on HR practices today.