The bachelor of business administration’s human resources major gained accreditation by the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources (CPHR) B.C. and Yukon, for the fall semester. In an interview with UFV’s Dr. Kirsten Robertson, she explains what efforts went into obtaining the CPHR accreditation, as well as opportunities and benefits the CPHR B.C. and Yukon will present for students at UFV.
Why don’t you tell me a little bit about your role at UFV?
I guess I have a couple of roles. In terms of teaching, I’m an assistant professor in human resources and organizational behaviour (HR-OB), which means I teach a broad spectrum of courses within the HR major and organizational studies minor, starting with your first OB class, up until some of the upper level classes. Administratively, this is my third year as the area chair for HR-OB, which means I help coordinate faculty in the area. We figure out how many of each section to offer, if we are going to make changes to the program, which courses would be required, and how many courses we should have in each aspect of HR. Not that I make those decisions, but I go back to the area, lead the discussion, then bring that information forward to the curriculum committees. I’m often liaising with the faculty, helping find sessionals to cover courses where we need additional help, making changes to programs, updating course outlines, all of that.
Can you explain what the CPHR B.C. and Yukon is?
It used to be called the CHPR, they have changed it to CPHR. It is essentially the same organization that it used to be, but what they do is, they are the professional body for human resources, kind of like the Chartered Professionals in Accounting (CPA) is the major professional body for accountants. In order to be a CPA, you need to go through their training program.
The CPHR is looking to do something similar in terms of the HR profession here in B.C. and the Yukon. It is not currently national, different provinces have their own provincial bodies, so CPHR B.C. and Yukon is the organization that we would be dealing with here in B.C. They do tons of stuff. They would give you the CPHR designation; that would be passing the knowledge exam, you have your HR major degree that you have done reasonably well in, and then you must get at least three years work experience. They manage that whole program, but they also do a lot of professional development. They run seminars for HR people, they have mentorship programs, they often help connect people who are looking for an HR job. You can connect through their website to companies that are looking to hire people in HR, so they are the overall professional body for HR.
How did we get the CPHR accreditation?
It was a bit of a process, but it went really smoothly, and everyone was great to deal with. It started out fall of 2016, in the HR profession. It is not as formalized as accounting, but we have seen a transition over the last few years. If you are hiring an HR person, companies used to say “a certain number of years of work experience and CHPR designation preferred.” Over the last few years, it is starting to become more and more expected that you would have that designation, basically more of a job requirement.
For our students, who are graduating and looking to start off in HR, if they can have anything towards getting that designation, it looks really great on their applications and resumes. I talked to a couple of students who expressed interest in doing the CPHR, and were wondering if we had an agreement in place — at the time, we didn’t. So, I kind of thought, why not, let’s look into finding out what it would involve, who I need to contact.
I approached the CPHR, and they sent me some information. I took it back, and we talked about the opportunities, we talked about some of the constraints that would come with accreditation, and there was enough support in the HR area that would move it forward. We wanted to see if we could come up with an agreement that would benefit our students, benefit faculty, benefit the organization, and we negotiated on aspects of that agreement over last semester, making sure the wording was right, making sure our students would get something valuable out of it.
It would have been in summer that we finalized it, and it officially launched this fall. It was a process of going back and forth with the faculty, and the CPHR and administration here, and just making sure that we would agree with stuff that we could do, we could deliver on. We also wanted to make sure the CPHR would be there to support our students, and would be there to offer our students benefits that would go beyond just the next few months, but really look into helping them in their careers.
What do think is the most valuable benefit?
Students will say that it’s getting the exemption from writing the exam, because by the time you graduate you kind of want to be done with exams; it takes another thing off your to-do list. But, probably what could benefit the most is the liaison and the mentorship opportunities; for example, I compare it to accounting. There is a fairly standardized process that you go through: you apply for a job, it goes through an articling system, and then you get your CPA. In HR it’s a lot more variable, we don’t have the same standardized system that students go through, so I think the biggest challenge for them is getting that first HR assistant job. One of the best ways to do that — which I always emphasize, but it is easy to forget when you are busy with classes — is having networking opportunities with people who are currently HR professionals, who are working for companies you want to work for. If you can talk to them, get to know the people who are working there, find out what they will ultimately want to do, get to know organizations that are hiring, and have those connections that can help them get their foot in the door.
That’s probably the most challenging aspect of moving into HR as a career: the first job, the first couple years. Where do you start, what kind of HR do you want to practice? Those connections with the professional community will be really helpful.
How do students pursue this? (CPHR)
Students who are interested in pursuing their CPHR designation need to graduate from the BBA HR major with at least a 70 per cent average in their program. After graduating, they can apply for exemption from writing the National Knowledge Exam component of the CPHR exam. They also need to have maintained at least two years of consecutive membership in CPHR B.C. and Yukon. Students graduating in June 2018 should join now, and can still obtain exemption (while students who graduated in June 2017 may also be able to gain exemption on a case-by-case basis by contacting CPHR B.C. and Yukon). To obtain the discounted student membership rate, students should contact one of the academic advisors in the School of Business for more information. After that, students need just three years of HR related work experience, and they can obtain the CPHR designation.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity