Canadian HR Reporter
Aug 7, 2019

New NKE requirements coming in 2021

Exam
CPHR Canada establishes standard for educational requirements
By Marcel Vander Wier

Canadian HR professionals aiming to earn their CPHR (Chartered Professional in Human Resources) designation will face new requirements as of 2021.

HR professionals outside of Ontario will be required to have completed the nine foundational HR courses offered by CPHR Canada, prior to writing the National Knowledge Exam (NKE).

The change serves to uphold the values of Canada’s HR profession and ensure that employers understand a HR candidate with the CPHR designation is “fully competent,” says Anthony Ariganello, CEO of CPHR Canada in Vancouver.

“HR has evolved as a profession — it just touches on so many facets,” he says. “For us, it was important that when you… have the designation… that you have had some degree of educational foundation.”

While the majority of Canadian HR professionals do hold some type of HR degree, CPHR Canada wanted to ensure some HR education was received prior to earning the designation, says Ariganello.

The move strengthens the credibility of the CPHR designation, ensuring all designates have the same base knowledge in the core competencies of HR, he says.

“It’s a natural progression for our profession,” says Ron Gauthier, CEO of CPHR Manitoba in Winnipeg. “We’re raising the standard and the quality of credentialing for the CPHR designation.”

At present, anyone with a bachelor’s degree and three years of professional HR experience in the past decade is able to earn the CPHR designation following successful completion of the NKE, he says.

“Currently, anyone can challenge writing the National Knowledge Exam to demonstrate their HR knowledge. Many of them tend to be people that have been working in HR for a period of time, but there isn’t a post-secondary requirement.”

HR professionals seeking to earn their designation still have ample opportunity to do so under the current framework, says Gauthier.

Three exams will take place prior to the change: fall 2019, spring 2020 and fall 2020.

Previously a paper exam, the process will become computer-based this fall.

The new requirements — announced on CPHR Canada’s website in July — were the result of a unanimous decision by all member associations, says Gauthier.

“We all thought it brought credibility to the designation and increased the robustness of the credentialing,” he says.

The nine semester-length courses that meet the CPHR Competency Framework are:

  • accounting and financial management
  • human resources management
  • industrial relations
  • organizational behaviour
  • occupational health and safety
  • recruitment and selection
  • strategic compensation
  • strategic human resources planning
  • training and development.

Non-designated HR professionals may be able to transfer credits from previously completed equivalent courses, according to CPHR Canada.

Graduates of CPHR Canada-accredited programs who maintained a 70 per cent average or 3.0 grade point average but require further education to meet the new educational requirements, are not required to do so for at least 10 years.

Established in 1994, CPHR Canada represents 27,000 HR professionals across nine provinces and three territories.

Ontario continues to be represented by the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA), which requires a similar educational foundation requirement, says Ariganello.

“We thought what they had made a lot of sense.”

HR professionals holding the designation are often privy to benefits such as increased salary — to the tune of $20,000 per year, says Gauthier.

The long-term goal is that all Canadian HR professionals eventually hold the designation, he says.

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