Leadership Matters
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By Philip Wilson, CHRE


In October 2014, the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) introduced an updated HR certification framework, which represents a true step forward in the professionalization

of human resources.

The new HR Professional Competency Framework provides the foundation for three competency-based designations. The updated framework comprises 213 HR functional competencies organized under nine functional areas as well as 15 enabling competencies. These functional and enabling competencies are defined for each of three levels of HR practice: entry, professional and executive. The new designations correspond to these three levels of HR practice – the Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) at the entry-level of practice; the Certified Human Resources Leader (CHRL) at the professional level of practice; and the Certified Human Resources Executive (CHRE) at the executive level of practice.


The new designations are competency-based in that they not only test knowledge, but also the ability to apply that knowledge.


The move to a three-designation model recognizes the broad scope of HR practice – from entry level HR administrative staff, to professional-level HR specialists/generalists with responsibilities such as managing projects and programs, through to HR executives charged with leading the HR function in large organizations.


Why change?


Change was necessary to keep pace with the increased demands placed on HR professionals to support workplaces that have changed dramatically over the last 20 years. And an update was essential to incorporate both knowledge and competence in matters of strategy, demographics, workplace accommodation, business acumen, diversity, employment law and analytics.


Secondly, with the passage of the Registered Human Resources Professionals Act, 2013, the HR profession was effectively promoted to the top tier of professions. Now, the profession is expected to live up to a higher standard in everything it does, including its designations and certification processes.

Change was necessary to keep pace with the increased demands placed on HR professionals to support workplaces that have changed dramatically over the last 20 years.


There is a correlation between the “seriousness” of a profession and the “rigorousness” of its certification processes – as HR becomes more “serious” as a profession, its certification processes must also become more rigorous. The more complex the work of a profession, the higher the level of competence required and the greater the consequences of incompetence, the more thorough the certification process must be.

To bring HR up to the same professional standards as other regulated professions, like accounting or engineering, HRPA needed to focus its certification process on competence and not only knowledge. Some of the ways that this focus on competence has been incorporated in the certification processes is through the inclusion of programs that focus on enabling competencies and performance-based exams. The purpose of professional programs at the CHRP and CHRL levels is to manage the transition from academic knowledge to professional competencies by focusing on enabling competencies – things like critical thinking, business acumen, project management and negotiation. Finally, all candidates for the CHRL must write a case-based performance exam, where everything learned in school, in the professional program and in supervised experience comes together.


Ultimately, this framework lays the foundation for an HR profession that incorporates what’s now expected of modern HR practice.


Someday, other HR regulators may adopt this framework – and with mutual recognition means even greater acceptance of HR as a profession, in Ontario, across Canada and around the world.


Phil Wilson, CHRE, is chair of the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA).

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