Learning Providers support HR Professionals on National HR Standards Journey


Learning Providers support HR Professionals on National HR Standards Journey
by Naren Vassan

During 2013, under the leadership of the SA Board for People Practices (SABPP) and HR Future, hundreds of HR professionals from all nine provinces and four other countries developed the first set of National HR Standards for South Africa.  Several awareness sessions followed in major cities throughout the country, and presentations were also done for the HR professional bodies in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Swaziland, Lesotho and Botswana.  More than that, interest was attracted from 18 countries (Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Saudi Arabia, Swaziland, Kenya, Ghana, UK, USA, Australia, The Netherlands, Malaysia, Liberia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Tanzania and Iran). Also,  universities in Zimbabwe will soon be accredited based on the HR Standards.  This article shows how academics at universities, and other learning providers are uniting with HR professionals in rolling out the standards in classrooms across the country.

Universities teach HR standards

When the HR standards were developed, 11 universities were directly involved, and since then a further 12 universities have expressed their support and interest. The HR Universities Forum comprising of all public universities headed by the respective facility heads and senior lecturers decided to integrate these standards in their curriculum. They have also encouraged their students to do research based on some these standards and how it can impact the industry.   Some of them have started to change their curriculums to meet the National HR Standards.   Two PhD students are also interested to work on the HR standards as their topics for their theses.  Furthermore, he first master’s degree has been completed on the HR Standards.

Academics from the University of South Africa and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University have ensured that their students will receive textbooks incorporating the HR Standards. Other universities have redesigned the curriculum and learning manuals to include the standards. Says, Marius Meyer, CEO of SABPP: “Having worked at universities for many years, I expected more resistance from them. However, the academics exceeded my expectations with their overwhelming response to the HR standards.  What impressed me the most was the fact that metropolitan and rural universities displayed the same level of enthusiasm, thereby ensuring that this project has become a national academic success overnight.  Sakkie van Greunen who lectures HR at the University of Pretoria has already taken more than 200 HR students through the HR Standards. Likewise, the HR master’s programmes at the University of Johannesburg and North-West University Vaal Campus haven included the standards as part of t’sheir coursework.”

Likewise, Prof Suki Goodman from the University of Cape Town expressed her comment: “Congratulations on the National HR Standard, a huge accomplishment.”   Karel van der Molen from the University of Stellenbosch Business School says: “I have perused the HR Standards document a few times and can categorically say that it is a very well-drafted document. Given its origin and given the number of people who initially provided inputs and insights, the distilled wisdom set out in the document certainly sets a standard which all of us as HR professionals can aspire to achieve.”    Dr Pierre Joubert from the Vaal University of Technology shares his excitement as follows: “The revised HR Curriculum that will submitted to the Council for Higher Education (CHE) will make the standards visible.”

Global academic support

Dr Chris Andrews from Bond University in Australia who spoke at SABPP 3rd Annual National HR Standards Roll-out clearly highlighted the value of how these can be used to audit HR practices from small to big corporate institutions.  The HR Standards are simple to understand and evaluate one’s practices.

Professor Bruce Kaufman from Georgia State University featured the South African HR Standards in a new textbook covering HR in 17 countries published in July 2014.   A master’s student in HR at the University of Theran in Iran will write her dissertation on the HR Risk Management Standard.  Moreover, Pauls Gibbons, HR Head at Mintek became the first person to complete her master’s degree on the HR Standards. Thus, it is clear that the National HR Standards have not only received broad academic endorsement from local universities, but also from international universities.

Learning providers

In addition to the HR standards teaching and curriculum alignment initiatives at South Africa’s universities, private learning providers have also come to the party in ensuring that workplace and unemployed learners are empowered with the National HR Standards as part of their HR certificate and diploma programmes.  Hence, if we combine the university efforts with that of the private and public learning providers it means that very soon thousands of learners will exit these institutions ready to implement the national HR standards in practice. The Emergence Growth Academy, Maccauvlei Learning Academy and ENJO Consulting CC are three such providers supporting this national initiative.  John Sandy from ENJO Consulting CC says: “That these standards will allow the HR Practitioner to be well equipped in linking qualification content to the industry requirements. The foundational requirements of the standards can easily be related to the real world of work. We are pleased to be associated with SABPP and we will integrate our current curriculum based on these 13 HR standards.”

With the new focus on occupations in the work-integrated learning system driven by the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO), the National HR Standards Initiative is well positioned to strengthen occupational learning for HR professionals.  SABPP as a quality assurance body will play its rightful role to support work-place learning for HR students and professionals.


Building on the success of the National HR Management System Standard launched in 2013, the HR Standards journey continues in 2016.  With HR professionals in practice now for the first time united with HR academics provides an opportunity for national alignment of curriculum, research and practice.  Universities and other learning providers play a key role to build capacity around the HR Standards. Some of them will also exhibit at this year’s conference at the Vodacom World Convention Centre.  To conclude with the words of Cello Gardner of the University of Pretoria:  The HR Standards initiative is “a major leap for HR towards credibility, respect and a positive image.”


Naren Vassan is Head of Learning and Quality Assurance at SABPP. For more information about the 4th Annual National HR Standards & Research in Practice Conference on 27-28 July 2016, contact  events@sabpp.co.za visit www.sabpp.co.za


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