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This review is only really relevant to those wishing to pursue a career in HR (Human Resources), Personnel, Training or Recruitment or for those already working in the aforementioned roles and want a recognised qualification for it or those who manage people in their day to day work and need some help and guidance in their roles.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) is a professional body for people involved in managing and developing people, some would call them HR professionals; some would call them Personnel staff or Trainers. Their mission statement is to (direct quote from their website):
* lead in the development and promotion of good practice in the field of the management and development of people, for application both by professional members and by their organisational colleagues.
* to serve the professional interests of members.
* to uphold the highest ideals in the management and development of people.
The CIPD is currently based at 151 The Broadway, London SW19 1JQ and its website can be found at www.cipd.co.uk.
They started out in 1913 as the Welfare Workers' Association with just over 30 members. Initially 29 of the founding members were women which reflected the organisations wish to look after women's rights at work. The name was changed to The Institute of Personnel Management in 1946 and remained the same till 1994 when it was changed to the Institute of Personnel and Development which lasted till 2000 when it received the Royal Charter on 1st July 2000 and officially became the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. For full details of the Institute's history you can see http://www.cipd.co.uk/about/history.htm.
The CIPD is regulated by its Executive Board and provisions of its charter and bye-laws and its aim is to "to advance continuously the management and development of people to the benefit of individuals, employers and the community at large" and "to be the professional body for those specialising in advancing the management and the development of people, recognised as the leading authority and influence in this field."
There are various methods of joining the CIPD which include educational entrance (by doing a qualification), Professional assessment of competence (which includes having 5 years managerial level experience in HR assessed for competence), accrediting your prior learning (APCL), NVQ/SVQs (National/Scottish Vocational Qualifications), or you can be directly admitted it you have approved qualifications such as a CIPD qualification or relevant NVQ/SVQ.
Some of the qualifications which you can do include Certificate in Personnel Practice (CPP), Certificate in Training Practice (CTP), Certificate in Recruitment and Selection (CRS) or the Certificate in Employment Relations Law and Practice (CERLAP). All of these courses can be done part-time whilst working or full time should you choose to do so.
As a member of the CIPD you can access various professional resources such as books, company profiles, online journals and magazines, a regular copy of People Management magazine and website resources only available to members. You have access to HR jobs advertised on the CIPD website and can take CIPD qualifications and gain the relevant certifications, get HR specific news sent to your email inbox, access to employment law resources, access to training course, receive invites to conferences and exhibitions, join relevant forums and receive certain discounts on books and training courses.
There's a really handy tool on the site if you want to look up a specific HR related course; you select the course you want, choose whether you want to do full time or part time, flexible learning or block release and whether you want to be professionally or vocationally assessed and then enter your post code - you will then be given a list of sites where you can attend the relevant course and distance from the post code you entered. The search results took a split second to deliver a list of 4 of the closest colleges for me to do the course I asked about (but seeing as it's a qualification I already have it wasn't really of much use - I just did it for the purposes of explaining how quick and easy the search facility is)!
MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
I have to admit that I didn't find being a member of the CIPD of much use to me when I was doing my qualification a few years ago at University. I was attending classes two evenings a week and we were told it was compulsory to pay membership to the CIPD to actually receive our certificate at the end of the course. I thought this was rather strange as out of an initial 37 students in my group only half of us joined. Of those of us who joined more than half of us did not receive a regular copy of the magazine People Management, some people received only 1 in 4 issues, some didn't receive any issues and some every 1 of every 2 issues. As we only had membership for a year it was rather strange that some of us who hadn't even paid for membership were receiving copies of the magazine in the post and even though we were told it was compulsory to join (and pay the joining fee - which was about £200 as far as I recall) those that didn't join still received their official certificates after the course was completed, which we all thought was very odd. They didn't seem at all consistent with their membership features and considering we were quite specifically told by the University that we MUST join or not receive a proper certificate at the end of the course, we all found it rather odd that the CIPD was lacking so much in consistency. Needless to say, when I finished my course and got my qualification, I didn't bother to keep up my membership as I felt it was a waste of money. If I had been working for a company who was prepared to pay the annual fees I might have still been a member but I didn't fancy paying nigh on £200 a year just for a magazine that was only delivered once in a blue moon. Most of the information that one can access through being a member one can get for free if you know where to look on the internet anyway.
I hope I'm not coming across too negatively about the CIPD, it does have its merits of course. If you join as a full member and are able to take advantage of the benefits they offer, then it is indeed worth joining. For people new to HR and wishing to develop themselves over a period of time including doing CIPD qualifications and through CPD (Continuing Personal Development) it is really useful. For the CPD you need to keep an ongoing development plan and development record which I, personally, found really tedious throughout my course and almost felt like I was a young child being told to keep a diary of everything I read and did. Life is too short. I read lots of relevant articles during the course of the week which are relevant to my role and which are of personal interest to me, having to keep a log of every one of them in case they're relevant to my CPD was really quite boring!
I'm updating this section as someone left a comment saying I shouldn't have been surprised at having to join a professional body. I was surprised at having to join them, I was surprised that we were told it was compulsory, I and others on my course paid the membership money, got practically nothing out of it and those of my fellow students who did not bother or refused to join the CIPD, all ended up getting their certificates anyway, which why I had a problem with it....
The website itself is quite thorough, it might look very basic on first appearance but there are so many different areas where you can click on to find out further information, you could be browsing around the site for hours and still not have seen everything. There are guidance notes on completing your CPD and self assessment diagnostic tools (this is quite clever and you just need to put in your name, email address and a password to start using this). I went through the "People Resourcing" module for the purposes of writing this review to see how far I could go without being an official paid up member of the site and to see if I would be asked to put in credit card details when I got to the end of the 28 questions, it was quite user friendly to take part in the actual diagnostic assessment but I would have to say that it was very slow processing the answers and moving onto the next question, which felt rather tedious. I have to admit when I eventually got to the end of it I was rather perplexed by the report I was given. It just listed the items on separate reports according to how I had rated myself. Didn't really give me any analysis or ideas on what to do next.
At the top of the screen are two easy to use drop down menus, one is a "sitemap" which allows you to choose from options such as "about CIPD", "bookstore", "conferences", "news", "press office", etc, and the other is a drop down menu listed by "subject" which includes areas such as "corporate and HR strategy", "employee relations", "employment law", "health & safety", "HR practice", "performance management", "training", etc. There's a handy Go button next to each drop down menu you can click when you've selected where you want to go. Once you've selected where you want to go you get a list of sub-heading on the left of the screen where you can choose which sub-section of the main heading you want to browse.
In the News section one of the main stories was headed "Cameron wants flexible working for all parents" dated 14th June 2007 with another one about "Firms fight to hang on to staff" also dated 14th June 2007 so it does seem that the website is regularly updated. Items like "HR in today's newspapers" are restricted to members so I couldn't have a nose around that area. Funnily enough, when you click the link "how much does membership cost?" it takes you to a page which says "permission denied" and "you do not have permission to access this document" which wasn't really much use to me!
I'd give the CIPD and its website a healthy 7 out of 10 for usefulness. There's quite a lot of free information available if you have the time to browse around the site but there are also quite a few areas you can't get into unless you're a member, pity they can't tell me exactly how much it costs to become a member!
N.B. I have also published this review at ciao.co.uk under the same username.