Julie Mills is trying to create a formal industry accreditation for recruiters working in employment services. She is the CEO of the Recruitment and Consulting Services Association (RCSA), an industry body focused on recognising qualified recruiters in New Zealand, Australia and now India.
Recruiters who join the RCSA are required to undergo a self-assessment programme to make sure they adhere to the association's benchmarks for best practice. RCSA provides competency-based and relationship-based training to all its members.
The aim is to provide accredited professional recognition under uniform guidelines.
But Mills says it has been difficult to develop a process for an industry such as recruitment which is so diverse.
"The diversity in the recruitment industry is so broad that you actually have to be really sure that you've got enough programmes and training and recognition to cover everything from executive search to nursing agencies, you name it, we've got to have it," Mills says.
Mills wants the RCSA accreditation to become for recruiters what the CPA qualification is for accountants. But she admits there is a long way to go with only a quarter of New Zealand recruiters participating.
"A very small percentage at this stage has actually completed the qualification but about 25 per cent of the consultants' pool at the moment has registered to undertake some form of accreditation through the association," Mills says.
The RCSA sprang up out of the National Association of Personnel Consultants of New Zealand and merged with similar organisations in Australia.
In the past, the organisation provided training but there was no formal level of recognition. But over the past 18 months, RCSA has run its accredited professional programme which provides a diploma certificate through Melbourne's Monash University. Participants outside Melbourne can participate through their online e-learning portal.
India has not had this type of training facility available in the past.
"There is very little in the way of dedicated recruitment education in India, despite a large and buoyant recruitment industry," Mills says.
Recruiters in India will simply be able to log on to the site to complete their studies. Industry leaders in India were seeking out this type of training.
"They were proactive in coming to us with a proposal that we thought was profitable for both sides of the equation. They basically approached us wanting us to sign a contract with them to deliver that training," Mills says.
Mills is also speaking to recruitment industry leaders in Singapore, China and other Asian countries. There are already a number of international recruitment companies operating in India but the RCSA is not yet known there. India is a vast market with 150 learning institutions offering some type of HR qualification.
Around 50,000 students there are working on an HR degree of some sort, Mills says.
Indian recruiters will study to achieve the Certificate in Customer Management which the RCSA is making available to education providers through a licensing agreement. The industry has certain best practices which are universal regardless of which country you're operating in. Candidates should be managed to assist them to develop their skills and CVs. Clients should be managed to help them manage their workforce and assist in retention, training and development. Proper procedures need to be followed in regards to industrial relations, occupational health and safety and induction requirements.
Recruiters should also be delivering a certain standard of service and list only bonafide jobs which are advertised and represented accurately.
Privacy is also critical.
"The key elements that all recruiters should be looking at are around privacy restraints of candidate and client personal information, processes around legislative requirements - particularly if you're in the casual or temporary space," Mills says.
Like any other membership programme, the RCSA has certain rules and regulations which members agree to.
"The authorisation allows us to take them through a disciplinary and disputes programme. We are in a position to sanction members for inappropriate behaviour. That can be anything from a monetary fine through to complete sanctions where they can be expelled from the association," Mills says.
Members can also be required to attend extra training or be required to prove that they have mended their ways. Mills says the association's constitution which all members sign is a legally binding contract which can be used to discipline members. Some members have already been caught out, but not in New Zealand.
"We've had a number of members fined. In fact, we've had one member suspended in the last 12 months," Mills says.
But it's unclear if such enforcement procedures would be legal in New Zealand.
"We haven't yet in New Zealand had a case which has required a sanction and so therefore we haven't had to test it," Mills says.
Contact David Maida at: www.DavidMaida.com