05
Feb

Professional Identity is about Universal Competency

One country cannot own any particular Professional Identity. Whether it is being a police officer, a nurse, doctor or lawyer, a bank teller is a bank teller, is a bank teller. Less than 20-30% of any competency descriptor is ever going to be unique to a particular job category within any particular company, in any particular industry. The balance of the competency statement must be sufficiently generic to allow for cross recognition between companies operating within a common industry, and industries operating within the Universe. If an industry body projects itself as unique and wholly territorial, it has missed the plot and in the process done its members a huge injustice. Trying to own something as generic as the description of professional competency is quite plainly stupid. Not going to the effort of benchmarking an industries statement of professional competency against that which exists elsewhere around the world is equally lazy and negligent. A parochial description of competency short-changes the members of any Professional Association and significantly compromises those members who pursue such recognition, preventing them from exporting their skills around the world. It prevents them from benefitting from being included in universal Continuous Professional Development (CPD) activities. Common sense dictates that any Professional Body which is so insular as to either truly believe it is unique or which acts independently of its global counterparts, is not a membership worth pursuing by practitioners. The problem is that in this country Professional Bodies have become so parochial and act so territorially that they avoid global inclusion. Many seem to have made a strategic decision to go it alone. To re-define the wheel as if they have the monopoly on professional insight and competency mastery and are paranoid to the extent that they believe that the rest of the world will want to steal that precious commodity if they got their hands on it. In reality there is no premium in establishing a monopoly when it comes to delineating and conferring Professional Identity. Even the Chinese have learnt that lesson. There is no profit in having a stranglehold over professional recognition. Yet most South African Professional Bodies prefer to establish Standards and Competency Statements as if this is a language, a science and a practice invented in this country. One Professional Body based in the United Kingdom has over decades penetrated a global network of countries facilitating global agreement on a series of Professional Descriptors and Codes, so that the recipients from as many as 80 countries around the world benefit from that Professional Bodies membership and awards. There is universal recognition that members of that organisation benefit from receiving relevant and modern professional awards, that they are constantly involved in Continuous Professional Development programmes and that a member anywhere in the world with the same award, is employable and professionally accountable. Contrast to that the reality that the South African version of that organisation has one single instrument for Professional Recognition, has disassociated itself from its UK parent and it seems has strategically decided to go-it-alone when it comes to defining and recognising Professional Competency. In South Africa many newly created and aspiring Professional Bodies could use the excuse that they are new and working towards global recognition and mapping. The South African breakaway I refer to, cannot use that excuse as it has operated for multiple decades as the elite body representing good governance in this country. What aggravates the situation is that formerly as a member of the global fraternity, the South African branch had access to Professional Recognition instruments for many years, which it appears from the resultant inaction, it chose, possibly strategically, not to apply in this country. The generic problem amongst many Professional Bodies in this country, appears to be one of not understanding the difference between what a qualification is and how differently Professional Recognition needs to be positioned in relation to both qualifications and CPD. If there is ignorance in an organisation, look to its leadership and management. If leadership within a would be Professional Body is antiquated and out of touch with modern global practices then that Body travels down an insular and wrong road towards ruin. If membership pursuing the awards offered by a Professional Body find that those awards are neutralized and worth nothing within the global context common sense dictates that they should cancel their membership and move onto more relevant offerings. The fact they are not cancelling their memberships and choosing to stick with the Professional Body means that very little has been done to communicate to them the need for standardised and global Professional Recognition. Contrast the goings on at that parochial organisation with the Project Management Institute (PMI). This is a global body with a significant footprint in South Africa through its PMI-SA counterpart, which has fought long and hard to ensure that a Project Manager in this country has the same level of recognition and credibility as one from the USA, the UK or anywhere in Europe and around the world. It has seen the merit in supporting a single universal set of competency descriptors and standards and assessment protocols. It has shown that it understands the massive force possible through a universal language and culture. Consequently South African Project Managers are members of a global family of practitioners. There are no borders to practice and hence there are many South African professionals working as Project Managers in the Middle East, throughout Africa, in Austral-Asia and elsewhere. They are provided with work because of their globally recognized competencies, not because of the country they operate from and therefore they can tender for work in any country around the world knowing that their Professional Recognition is not going to be a discriminating factor in being awarded tenders. Which Professional Body would you want to join and seek recognition from? The first one, which has arrogantly broken away from its global counter-part, or the PMI-SA?