No Image Available


Read more from TrainingZone

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

A critical assessment of the IPD professional standards


This article is contributed by Garry Platt. I work as a senior consultant for Woodland Grange, a provider of the IPD's qualification scheme. I have been prompted to put pen to paper by the IPD's request for input on its forthcoming review of the Professional Standards. I believe there are 3 principal areas where the current qualification strategy could be overhauled and improved. These areas all relate to the Professional Qualification Scheme (PQS).

The issues centre on the fact that the IPD now has a membership that extends well beyond personnel departments and encompasses people who operate outside the typical remits of a personnel discipline and much more in a specialist, training and/or development function.

The three concerns are:

1 - Core Personnel & Development - 22% of the PQS Scheme - 120 Hours Teaching Input

This element supposes and it is clearly stated by the IPD that 'it is increasingly common for practitioners to move between functions'. That may or may not be the case, though I would like to see the facts upon which this assumption has been made. The recent IPD survey of trainers gave no indication that this was the case. The majority of participants through Woodland Grange are specialists who do not move between functions. They are forging careers in one area. Specialisation and the development of highly regarded skills appear to be the current trend with our clients.

Regardless of who is correct here, specialists of whom there are significant numbers are not supported in the progression of their membership of the IPD. To do so they would need to develop knowledge and skills that do not play any significant part in their day to day work. Organisations will neither countenance nor individuals stomach development which has no bearing for them, and consequently they fail to participate in the IPD's qualification system.

The PQS in its current format has indirectly stipulated a single unitary structure and function for HR Departments. But not everyone works in an organisation that has or requires the type of culture the IPD suggests.

Many organisations have an integrated HR structure and achieve significant outputs. There are just as many organisations with segregated HR functions, which achieve equally significant results. The decision that one approach is correct and the other wrong has no factual basis. It is an attitudinal legacy from the old IPM/ITD days.

I fully understand the counter argument; that HR people need a significant understanding of both Personnel/Developmental issues, as they are so interrelated. This argument is fundamentally flawed. In many of our client organisations the deep interrelationship between the two functions has diminished and others have taken their place for appropriate and necessary reasons. This is particularly true in matrix and project driven cultures.

Take for instance Jaguar Sports Cars and the Ministry of Defence, in both these organisations the Training & Development function works much more closely with Quality, Production, Special Projects, Finance, Customer Support departments than it does with its Personnel counterpart, despite in many cases sharing the same office. Does this mean that staff have to attend Quality, Production, Marketing, Finance, Sales, Purchase, etc orientation programmes before they can work effectively together? Of course not and exactly the same logic extends to the Personnel and Development functions.

I think the IPD should address this issue and formally recognise the fact that it is a broad church and the current system might be useful for some people but it should not be a demand of the entire professional body where it is not necessary.

2 - Core Management - 33% of the PQS Scheme - 180 Hours Teaching Input

This section is based on the premise that it 'is vital for all with or seeking responsibility for general management and for those who need to understand the organisation within which they work in order to exercise influence'. I think this demand is appropriate where the individual is in or moving towards a HR management role.

But today's organisations are much flatter, more streamline and the opportunity for working in a management role not always an option. Therefore people within the HR function who do not operate and are not about to work at a management level can find them selves excluded from developing their membership. Why? Because most organisations will not fund or release people on developmental programmes for which there is no immediate need and surely we as professionals in this business would not encourage it.

If this element is intended to provide an understanding of the corporate environment, information systems, managing processes etc, rather than preparation for management, then the current programme is overkill and its content and structure needs badly reviewing.
In addition this requirement implies an obligation for some form of seniority in the workplace to progress through the ranks of the IPD, again this cannot be right. Seniority does not mean an increased level of professionalism only alternate sets of responsibilities.

And what about independent trainers and consultants who do not work within an organisation? What is she or he to do? Are they not entitled to develop their professional status? Only it would seem if they pursue a qualification in management. For these individuals I can see the primary need for self-management and personal time management, etc. The Core Management function is much broader and deals with internal organisational issues. I can think of other developmental options that would be much more appropriate and relevant to this group of people's needs.

3 - Specialist & Generalist Personnel & Development - 45% of the PQS Scheme - Hours unspecified

This series of pick and mix elements covers a very broad range that is excellent. But none of these elements carry any form of IPD qualification nomenclature. You do not obtain an IPD Certificate or Diploma in whatever topic you are taking until you have completed a total of 4 different subject areas.

The requirement that 4 areas from this section should be met is too much. The demands on both an individual and supporting organisation to progress from an associate member to a graduate looking at the entire PQS structure is excessive to the point of being ridiculous.

We should have an agenda to increase the knowledge and skills base. But the extent and depth off this project has lost site of the users it was meant to serve. So what should happen?

Possible Solutions

The IPD should more overtly recognise that its membership consists of broad generalists and specialists and at all levels. One size (in the shape of the Core Management and Core Personnel & Development Elements) does not fit all.

The CTP, CPP and NVQ3 should be amalgamated into the Specialist & Generalist Personnel & Development pick and mix options. Each of these units should carry weighting of 1 unit.

The Core Management and the Core Personnel & Development Elements should also be reviewed and also offered as elements within the Specialist & Generalist Personnel & Development pick and mix options, but each might carry a weighting of 2 units. They also result in a Diploma in whichever area they have elected to follow.

NVQ 4 & 5 should also be integrated into this same framework and carry a weighting of 2 units each.

What we would then have is a range of options some carrying weighting of 1 and others 2 units.

From out of this framework potential members must first opt to complete a CTP, CPP or NVQ3, or show APL to the same level. This will lead to associate membership. (Licentiate membership disappears and could be phased out after 3 or 4 years.)

Candidates must then achieve a further 2 units, and the choice of developmental route is entirely their own, they may also achieve these units by a stringent and controlled assessment of APL perhaps run at branch level but verified by HQ. Success leads to graduate membership and corporate membership follows provided 2 years of CPD can be proven.

Academic centres and universities could offer lower and higher degrees that combine any number of these elements and achieve dual or multiple accreditation. The candidate therefore receives graduate membership, a degree award and certificates and diplomas according to the programmes content.

I would be very interested in hearing your objective views and comments on the issues I have raised here. You may completely disagree with my arguments or entirely concur, either way I would like to hear from you.
This appears to be an emotive issue and raises strong feelings. Please try and remain as objective as you can and try not to personalise issues.

You can contact me on:

Garry Platt M.Ed. MIPD. FISM.
Senior Consultant
Woodland Grange
Old Milverton Lane
Royal Leamington Spa E Mail:
Warwickshire Fax No: IN THE UK - 01926 452 904
CV32 6RN Business Web Site:
United Kingdom Personal Web Site:


Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!