After a slightly shaky start, the Institute of Recruiters (IoR) was finally launched last week. But what is the point of another professional body in the HR and recruitment marketplace, and is the new organisation going to be able to offer anything really meaningful to its members?
The IoR is the brainchild of Azmat Mohammed, the organisation's director of information and communication technology and operations, and Dave Barber, director of member services. Barber was previously a regional director for the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) for a number of years while Mohammed is CEO of digital services company ID Interactive.
Barber and Mohammed founded the not-for-profit IoR with the aim of representing the interests of recruiters and HR professionals in the UK and overseas, offering a range of benefits and services, with a strong emphasis on education. The institute plans a distinct focus on professional education to allow members to grow their careers and businesses through university-run professional development courses.
Mohammed is clear as to where he feels the gap in the market existed. "Two years ago we as a business were recruiting," he explains, "and we dealt with a number of people who were members of the REC. I don't want to be slating an incumbent organisation, but, for us, we weren't getting what we wanted. We also looked at the CIPD and one of the things we found was that there wasn't really a joined-up policy tackling everything from recruitment through to HR to retention and then release. These are connected processes."
As part of this "holistic" approach, the IoR is building a capability and training needs analysis model that will form the cornerstone of its membership process. The model is based on the National Occupational Standards for Recruiters, with the addition of certain core skills that are regarded as important to the recruitment profession. National Occupational Standards are used by government, sector skills councils, educational providers and businesses to define the competency standards required by a wide range of roles in many different sectors.
The model, which will be used as the initial basis for admission to the institute, is neither an entrance exam nor a screening tool. Rather, it is a service for members that allows them to assess their own competence and professionalism against the levels that would be expected for their role.
Another key aim of the institute is the ability to leverage technology to help members operate more efficiently.
As part of this commitment, it has partnered with technology giant Cisco to provide a custom web portal for its members. The software will allow IoR members to access fully interactive online events that can be made available to up to several thousand participants at any one time. IoR members will be able to use top-end technology to attend virtual round tables on industry hot topics and access university-accredited continuing-professional-development events and high-quality training.
As for take-up, Mohammed would not be drawn on membership numbers but did say that: "Members are coming in at a rate that could take us to 10,000 affiliates within three years."
The new institute was scrutinised heavily before its formal launch, not least on LinkedIn, which was its primary route to market. Accusations of censorship and a lack of transparency didn't help to quell cynicism or questions about the organisation's "institute" status (the IoR is legally allowed to use the title due to having a US headquarters).
But with its own LinkedIn group of several thousand members, it seems that there is some appetite for an alternative or complementary industry body to those already in existence. So can the IoR live up to its promise that it will make a real impact?
In a natty little promo on its website, the IoR makes the somewhat loaded boast: "Teeth .... we have some!" This effectiveness will be achieved through the influential team at the IoR, says Mohammed, though there is as yet still some lack of detail.
"We have an incredible advisory board and we will soon be joined by some very high level people including a lord and a senior recruitment leader," Mohammed says. "Through these appointments we will have great access to government and industry."
If the other major players in the marketplace are concerned at the appearance of the IoR they aren't showing it. The CIPD declined to comment on the launch, while the REC's chief executive, Kevin Green, says: "The REC welcomes competition. As with any new representative body, there will be legitimate questions about ownership of the IoR, its governance and the ability to deliver what they promise.
"The REC has been around in one shape or form for over 80 years. The collective voice of the recruitment industry has never been stronger and we will continue to work in the best interests of our members and the industry."
Among others in the industry there was a more cautious welcome. "It's early days, and of course we embrace any attempts to continue to promote good practice in the HR industry," says Gwyn Jones, head of HR at Securitas Security Services, "but as members of the CIPD, we would not at this time consider joining another institute as we feel that the service we get is truly comprehensive."
Individual membership of the IoR starts at a free affiliate level, rising to £49 as a fellow and £249 for corporate membership. There is no joining fee.