Due to unprecedented correspondence about CIPD qualifications and
membership, we are devoting this week’s letters to the debate. Here is a sample
of what we have received – sadly, many of you requested anonymity. The CIPD has
been monitoring your letters carefully over many weeks and says it is committed
to continually reviewing its services to its members
CIPD qualification: worth the effort?
Your anonymous correspondent from a reputable engineering consultancy
(Letters, 13 April) suggested that "just because you have the
qualification does not necessarily mean that you are a good HR manager or
professional". Isn’t this where we came in on this debate?
It is precisely because a qualification in itself doesn’t make you a
seasoned professional that further evidence of professional experience is
required to secure chartered status. And chartered members are required to
demonstrate their commitment to continuing professional development. That’s
what the right to use the chartered designation after your name entails.
It is also the case that an experienced HR professional can achieve
chartered status on the basis of an assessment of existing experience, skills
and competencies, without having to undertake formal study. There are HR
professionals who are not CIPD qualified. But recent letters on these pages
have demonstrated the value to individuals, and to the profession as a whole,
that a combination of CIPD qualifications and chartered status is delivering.
Having the word ‘chartered’ after your name may not be everything. But it
certainly shows something – as a glance through the job ads for HR
professionals will illustrate.
Membership manager, CIPD
I am an experienced HR manager with eight years’ experience – four at senior
After completing my first year of the CIPD qualification, I was offered a
great career opportunity as HR manager for a medium-sized organisation. I opted
to defer my final year and chose to study at Thames Valley University,
recommended by the CIPD as a centre of excellence three years ago.
I now have three months left to complete the CIPD, and am leaving with an
absolute sense of disillusionment. I have however, been lucky compared to my
fellow students, as at least some of the ‘concepts’ discussed are relevant to
my level. The rest of the class is at adviser level, and all agree that they
will have forgotten the main concepts they have learned by the time they come
to be in such a strategic position to use them.
Tutors have openly criticised the CIPD’s stance over using learning
indicators, and its bully-boy tactics in making the university include an exam
as well as an assignment for each module. As a result, we are forced to revise
huge amounts for a short one-hour exam, worth just 20 per cent of our overall
The qualification is just something you have to do to move jobs or move up
the ladder, and has no relevance or business benefit.
HR manager, Firmdale Hotel Group
My first role in HR after graduation was as an HR officer. Unfortunately,
the company was not willing to fund the CIPD qualification, and I couldn’t
afford to pay for it myself. When the time came to move jobs, I found that
because I didn’t have the CIPD qualification, my HR experience was worthless. I
ended up taking a junior role, where at least I would get help for the
After two years, and with licentiate membership of the CIPD, I wanted to
move to another organisation at a higher level. Although I now had the
qualification, my junior position meant that I was now deemed to be lacking in
The solution? I moved out of HR. How many talented people is HR losing by
being narrow-minded in its approach to recruitment?
I graduated with a BA in HR management and industrial relations in 2001, but
I am still an HR assistant and on an unimpressive salary.
I contacted the CIPD on completion of my degree with the intention of
gaining accreditation. I was told I had to submit my syllabus along with more
than £2,000 for someone at CIPD to read through it and assess whether I
deserved accreditation. Having just finished university, I couldn’t afford it,
so I didn’t apply.
My job search was just as disappointing. All HR assistants were required to
have at least three years’ experience. I had no option but to go for a job as a
PA. After a year, my CV was submitted for a role as an HR assistant. Once
offered the position, I had to insist on a decent salary. Why are HR admin
positions so badly paid? HR is a discipline, which needs those operating within
it to have specialist knowledge. Salaries should reflect this – but they don’t.
The company I am now with has given me the opportunity to gain my CIPD. I
thought I would get chartered status easily, with the probability of having to
attend the final year to ensure I was at the right standard. But the CIPD
informed me that it had changed its syllabus, and I would now have to study for
As a compromise, it said I could submit my degree, but I would still have to
sit the first year exams and then go on to the second year. Would anybody
honestly be happy sitting exams after being out of education for three years?
This wasn’t an option.
The CIPD appears to be an elite club for those who can afford pay. Yet, I
have not been blown away by the standard of syllabus provided in the first
year. It is exactly the same, if not more basic, than degree-level study.
I have more than 10 years’ senior HR experience in New Zealand. When I came
to the UK, I looked into CIPD membership and, in particular, its professional
assessment of prior experience. Not only did I discover the level of CIPD
learning to be well below my current knowledge, but the assessment process
costs between £2,500 and £5,000.
I can’t afford this, and have found through experience of working in the UK
that my legislative understanding is very high. Nothing can substitute for
I funded and completed the CPP in 2002. I am now an HR officer in an IT
company. It won’t sponsor me for the CIPD qualification and, with a
year-and-a-half’s generalist experience, I have started looking for another HR
Not one agency of the eight that I joined in the Thames Valley area have
said my lack of CIPD qualification will hamper my job search or career. I
attend college for five hours every Saturday, and have a second interview with
a company this week, offering £5k more than I am earning now.
The only way I got into HR is through the CPP.
‘Barriers’ is the word that best describes the systematic obstruction of
those who would wish to further their CIPD membership. They are prevented by a
bureaucratic system that takes little, if any, account of the time people have
to take preparing projects to ‘prove’ their experience meets CIPD standards.
I have a DMS with a behavioural sciences specialism, and have passed all
aspects of the CIPD’s assessments years ago. But I failed the IR paper. As the
lecturer said: "While the response was innovative and perfectly right for
commerce, you should have stuck to the book response to satisfy the IPD"
(as it was then).
At the time, I was the personnel manager for a major retailer with 3,500
employees. A colleague, who was the HR director for the Financial Times Group
at the time, was refused ‘fast track’ membership because – like me – he was
under 40. How ludicrous can you get?
I now lead a team of senior and very professional HR managers, running an HR
outsourcing company. However, to upgrade my CIPD qualification, I would be
looking at around £3,000, plus substantial study time.
Unless the CIPD’s approach to membership criteria becomes more flexible, it
will lose out in the long-term.
Colin R Perkins
Partner, Personnel Services & Management