New programme to certify, shore up HR skills

On top of duties such as processing payroll, human resource professionals could soon be expected to wield business sense and handle big data.

A national programme to certify the skill levels of HR professionals will be piloted at the end of the month as part of efforts to shore up qualifications in the industry.

The voluntary programme will start first with 100 participants and be fully launched in the second quarter of next year.

The National HR Professional Certification Framework is the first attempt at setting a nationwide standard for the amorphous profession.

Run by government agency Workforce Singapore, it will assess HR professionals for skills that go beyond basic HR functions, such as business acumen and grasp of labour laws and data analytics.

Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said on Thursday that it was a "significant development to professionalise the HR community to better support human capital development in our future economy".

HR plays a key role amid the push for firms to train and develop workers as the economy restructures.

Speaking at the Asian Human Capital and Leadership Symposium, Mr Lim said he hoped the programme will help HR professionals move "from the backroom into the boardroom", where they can aid their bosses in charting business directions.

The framework was developed by a 17-member task force formed in July last year with representatives from industry, academia and the Government. They consulted more than 500 HR and business leaders.

While the certification will not be made mandatory, the panel hopes to get all 43,000 HR professionals here to participate.

To be eligible for the lowest level of assessment, an HR professional must first have undergone 150 hours of structured HR-related education or training, and have at least two years' experience in the field.

The task force's head, Singtel group chief HR officer Aileen Tan, said: "HR practitioners now need to think of how they can convert sunset roles and build talent pipelines for sunrise roles."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 15, 2016, with the headline 'New programme to certify, shore up HR skills'. Print Edition | Subscribe