‘HR profession upwardly mobile, charting path for organisational growth’
New President and Chairman, Governing Council of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria (CIPM), Wale Adediran, in this interview with GLORIA EHIAGHE, spoke about the positive growth of the Human Resources (HR) profession in Nigeria. He explained how passionate the institute is in changing the unemployment narrative and his plans for the institute during his two-year tenure, among other national issues. Excerpts:
As a regulator of HR practice, how bothered is CIPM about rising unemployment in the country?
I mentioned this earlier at our presentation on the management of national unemployment challenges to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and also during the launch of our internship programme tagged: Ready to Market.
They are all evidence of how passionate we are about changing the unemployment narrative as regards the HR profession. I imagine that a number of other professional bodies are also taking up the challenge in their areas of influence. With support from the government, I think we would move by leaps and bounds very soon in addressing this monster.
How are HR professionals coping with a rising pace of technology adoption in their operations?
The truth of the matter is that the world has become a global village, and for HR professionals to remain relevant, they need to adopt technology is of utmost priority. HR professionals have started adopting these disruptive technologies.
CIPM keeps engaging and educating members on trends and development in the workplace through thought-provoking fora. One of such is our special human resource forum holding at Eko Hotel and Suites on July 18, 2019, where we would be talking about the emerging Gen Z and its implications on the workforce.
Another is our annual national conference coming up between October 22 and 24 at the International Conference Centre, Abuja. This year’s discussions would particularly center on technology and workplace disruptive tools, as we prepare for the future of work.
How does the Institute engage the public and government on the challenges of human capacity development in various sectors of the economy?
We identify these challenges, advise and educate HR professionals and managers on the best practicable solutions to solve them, especially those that have to do with national policies.
We have commenced an engagement forum called ‘Senior HR Leader’s Advocacy Round Table’, which is a free event for both members and non-members of the institute. The programme aims to provide a platform for intellectual discourse on emerging and trending issues in the Human Resource policy environment in Nigeria, national importance and nurturing of creative and strategic responses that would optimise the competence of HR and people management practitioners in Nigeria. Such issues, among many others, include the impact of the anticipated increase in VAT, CIT rates nationally, the proposed National Housing Fund (NHF), national minimum wage and the new taxation regimes on capital gain tax by some state governments.
We are taking the forum to all the geo-political zones of the country to ensure that we address challenges that are specific to each zone. We have done for Southwest and South-South, North-Central is coming up next month and others would follow.
What are your plans for the Institute during your tenure?
We will drive three priority areas that will build the CIPM brand of our dream, alongside the entire governing council as a team. First, we will drive the stakeholders’ satisfaction. Secondly, we will pursue a pan-African membership. Lastly, we will seek an iconic presence and influence in Abuja in pursuit of our accreditation and contribution to policies that affect human capital development in Nigeria.
We will achieve these by doing three major activities. First, is the transformation of our membership service platforms to build a strong reputation that will satisfy our members and attract a pan-African membership base. Secondly, we will develop our branches aggressively and ensure a fair share of national presence at the branches. Lastly, we will develop a “glocalised” HR practice standard for Nigeria and that is equally world-class standards covering peculiar local realities and ensure the standard is embedded in people management practice in Nigeria.
As we speak, each leadership and an elected council member has an agenda to pursue the 2019-2021 strategic plan. The overall objective is to transform the brand. When we do that, accreditation of our certificate will become easier, members will be attracted easily, international recognition will come with ease and international networking synergy will become stronger.
What has been the contribution of CIPM to Nigeria’s development over the years?
In the past 50 years since the inception of the institute, a lot of growth has taken place in the development of the human resource profession in Nigeria. Of particular importance to the institute is living its mission, which is to promote excellence and regulate the ecosystem for people management to deliver value for suitable growth of individuals, organisations and the nation.
This mission comes to play with our pool of strategic training and programmes, which are channeled towards all-round development. We have championed a number of causes. One of such is our drive for professionalism in the Nigerian public service, being the largest employer of labour. Recently, we inducted over 100 qualified individuals in the Ogun State civil service, which is evidence of our involvement.
Furthermore, we have continued to contribute to addressing the challenge of unemployment in the country. A few years ago, we presented our findings from research on management of national unemployment challenges to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and last year, we launched an internship programme tagged ‘Ready to Market’.
It is a six months industry internship scheme designed following the observation of a huge gap in the skills and readiness of the graduates of tertiary institutions and freshly certified CIPM members, who may not have any prior experience of the demand side of labour. The participants are deployed to various organisations for six months after undergoing three weeks of intensive experiential learning sessions with HR thought leaders.
Another contribution is adding our voice to the intellectual discourse on national issues as the apex regulatory body for HR in Nigeria. The Institute is a member of the National Employment Council (NEC), Quarterly Business Forum (QBF) of the office of the Vice President of Nigeria, and the tripartite committee on the National Minimum Wage. All these are platforms through which we have contributed immensely to the socio-economic development of the country.
Also worthy of note is our advocacy to end unwholesome and unprofessional people management practices in Nigeria. An example is our intervention on a job advert by the Civil Defence, Fire, Immigration & Prison Services Board (CDFIPB) that was found discriminatory against pregnancy. The institute took the issue up and the advert was retracted.
How will you rate the HR profession in Nigeria?
Honestly, the profession is not where it was decades ago. It has definitely evolved.
Before now, the ‘personnel manager’ was just a hiring and firing manager. Now, HR is more strategic and has grown to be a business partner, delivering organisational effectiveness by aligning the overall business goal, people and organisation strategy. HR is now the business of the business, charting the course for organisational growth. In all, the profession is on an upward-moving slide.
One of the challenges of HR managers is employing the right skill set. How does failure to get the right skills to affect the general workforce?
The primary role of a recruiter is to populate the organisation with the right skill set by bringing in talents that address the demand at hand. In doing this, we consider competence, which is broken into three parts namely: knowledge, skills, and experience, which are all crucial to performance.
It is a competence that changes the game, bringing in distinguishing factor for excellence. Now the absence of competence spells disaster for any organisation. So, it is very critical that this is present.
A case in study is a review of fortune 500 companies that have stood the test of time over the decades. These survivors are the companies that always secured competent talents that deliver value. But in a case where this is absent, the future of the company becomes doubtful, thereby leading to a shorter life span. This, in turn, affects the livelihood of employees. Hence, it is paramount for HR managers to get the right skill set.
What is your message to all the critical stakeholders towards ensuring that HR practice continues to play its roles in national development?
People spend most of their lifetimes at work. HR practitioners exercise the greatest influence on work, workplace, and workers. Our role in creating a productive and healthy workplace is critical for social order, productivity and well being of our nation’s human capital.
I appeal to the government at all levels to collaborate with our institute to play the role established for it by law. The law recognises the criticality of our professional to national development. Hence, our institute is empowered to regulate the practice of the profession. The law frowns at having non-professionals in HR practice. It stipulates sanctions for anyone who practices the HR profession without CIPM certification. Even imprisonments are stipulated in the Act for some contraventions of the act.
Governments at all levels need to, therefore, recognise only CIPM certified HR professionals for HR and administrative duties. We will soon embark on the enforcement of our regulatory duties as stipulated by law. The negative impact of untrained and uncertified pretenders on the life of the nation’s human capital is too critical to ignore.
Finally, I encourage both non-members and members of the institute to get on board, as we co-create and implement initiatives that would take the institute and the HR profession in Nigeria to an enviable level that we all will be proud of. Together, we can achieve more.