NATIONAL HR PROFESSIONALISM: Setting the benchmark for capacity-building in HR competencies and standards in South Africa

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By Nico Schutte


Are you an HR professional or do you want to become an HR professional? Your timing is perfect! Or are you in the HR profession for some time and want to know how you can develop yourself? The South African Human Resource (HR) profession is transforming itself. Formerly commonly viewed as merely operational, paper pushers, or mediators, today’s HR practitioners are continuously seen as integral to their organisation’s business success. Consequently there is a growing need for HR to play a strategic role – to be at the boardroom table where the business decisions are taken to achieve business success. Now with the recently established National HR Competency Model and National HR Standards, the time is right for HR to step up and achieve credibility by delivering high quality HR products and services to organisations and its stakeholders.
Essentially, it becomes imperative for HR professionals to contribute towards the optimising of human resources towards achieving organisational goals and objectives. It is expected of HR professionals to be able to provide state of the art advice to management teams regarding sound HR management practices.

In the new world of work collaboration between management and HR becomes a key aspect in the future. Hence, there will be an increased focus on arrangements – such as social networks to support and build strong relationships and collaboration between the various stakeholders in the HR management process. Furthermore, we need to acknowledge the fact that work arrangements will also become more adaptive, more informal and less focused on formal structure and static design solutions. HR should also become a partner with senior and line managers in strategy execution. HR practitioners should become high level specialists in the way work is organised and executed, delivering administrative excellence while quality is upheld. In addition, HR should become a mediator for employees, representing their interest and affairs to senior management and at the same time working to increase collaboration. Moreover, HR should become drivers of change, influencing processes and establish a competent culture that improves organisational performance.

Objectives of the National HR Academy
To address the above issues, a National HR Academy has been conceptualised and is ready to be launched on 28 August. The National HR Academy aims to actively assist the HR professional community in transforming itself to become a profession through:
• Supporting the SABPP in its purpose to establish its authority within the HR fraternity by introducing a sequence of powers and privileges to newly registered HR professionals;
• Instigating numerous endeavours in the HR environment by setting HR curriculum standards and ensure appropriate alignment;
• Building HR competence in the 14 competencies of the National HR Competency Model;
• Advocating HRM as a profession and changing perceptions of HRM as a profession as viewed by other professions;
• Assisting organisations in leading their organisations in areas such as organisation development, strategic utilisation of human resources to serve business goals, and talent management and development;
• Actively work with the SABPP to remove the negative perceptions of HR by line managers, as to whether HRM is considered a value adding and essential function within the organisation;
• Improve HR’s recognition as a true profession;
• Creating value and deliver tangible results in the ever-changing business world;
• New ways of positioning and articulating the role and value created by HRM in business language; and
• Establishing indicators of measuring success (business measures versus HRM indicators).

Therefore, in order to achieve these goals, the SABPP will assist organisations to strategically re-position itself through understanding the progression of HRM. This transition has evolved from a typical operational function towards strategically centred value-creating HR where HR becomes a business partner and plays an integral role in defining and executing business strategy.

At present our world of work is known as one where technology replaces numerous core functions and outsourcing vendors compete aggressively for HR roles once found exclusively within an organisation. Furthermore, during the last decade we saw the very nature of work as we understood it changing rapidly. The unprecedented scale and pace of change in the global economy and in particular the South African world of work offers a crucial and indispensable need to safeguard the ways organisations function. Thus, human resources and organisational practices are challenged to drive performance and business growth for the future.


HR capacity-building in competencies and standards
Sound people practices and development is crucial to the success of the South African businesses world, and society – so HR leaders in conjunction with business leaders need to stay ahead about what drives business performance. Subsequently, as a key driver the National HR Academy will actively drive HR skills development. As the professional body for HR and people development, SABPP will endeavour to equip South African HR professionals with the required HR competencies that will prepare them to play a significant role in the workplace. This will assist organisations towards achieving their objectives in a productive way.
Through the establishment of the National HR Academy we would like to increase the SABPP`s impact, in professionalising the HR fraternity around the national HR standards and competencies. Therefore we are focusing our agenda on two core themes:
• Achieving competence in the 14 HR competencies of the South African HR Competency Model;
• Attaining professional capability to implement the 13 standard elements of the National HR Management System Standard.
Subsequently, the ultimate goal should be for the HR function to provide the organisation with resources that provide value. This entails developing competent employees who are able to deliver high quality products and services, and creating an organisational culture that encourages teamwork and trust. The National HR Academy will set the benchmark for capacity-building of HR professionals in the new National HR competencies and standards.


Prof Nico Schutte is an Associate Professor in HR Management at North-West University (Mafikeng Campus) and President of the National HR Academy of SABPP. The National HR Academy will be launched at the 2nd Annual HR Standards Conference at Sandton Convention Centre on 28 August. The programme is available on Follow SABPP on twitter @SABPP1 or the blog

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