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SHRM, Mexico HR Group Create Certificate Program
 

By Kathy Gurchiek  3/7/2014
 

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) will team up with the Asociacion Mexicana en Direccion de Recursos Humanos (AMEDIRH) to create a certificate program exclusive to Mexico.

AMEDIRH is Mexico’s largest HR organization, representing more than 12,500 HR executives. The two organizations are co-creating a 128-hour, nine-module certificate program that will focus on helping practitioners develop strategic and business expertise in the industry.

The partnership agreement, formalized on Feb. 28, 2014, at Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) headquarters in Alexandria, Va., is the first of its kind for SHRM. The new program is not a preparation course for certification, “but it’s so fundamentally sound that people who go through it can eventually sit in on the certification process,”explained Alberto de Armas, vice president of HR at CEMEX Mexico and AMEDIRH president.

SHRM Online sat down with Armas to talk about AMEDIRH’s partnership with SHRM and the state of the HR profession in Mexico.

SHRM Online: Tell us why AMEDIRH is partnering with SHRM.
Armas:
SHRM is a model organization in HR. It has so much information and knowledge captured in different formats and so much experience that, if it’s leveraged correctly, can have an incredible impact around the world.

The partnership is a big step for our future as an organization. We want to promote that there is a very strong business base that has to be a part of any HR professional who wants to be at the strategic level. We felt our profession in general, in Mexico, needed some level of formal certification.

We hope this relationship will create a new model that will be valuable for SHRM, too, as it grows outside of the U.S.

What is the state of the HR profession in Mexico?
Traditionally, there’s not been a collegiate program that prepares HR professionals. Typically, someone has entered HR from some other business function, and most were “put aside” in HR. As HR is challenged to drive change, it is not the graveyard anymore. This new program provides a discipline and knowledge structure to grow an organization and to take a typical generalist and provide a basis for consideration of the many things the HR professional can do—such as compensation and benefits, strategy, labor relations.

The key question is to whom HR reports; usually, it doesn’t report directly to the CEO, but that’s changing, especially among larger Latin American companies.

What are the most
pressing challenges for HR professionals in Mexico?

Instead of a skills gap, we have a productivity gap in Mexico, which is lagging most developed nations. What’s driving that gap is the people side of the equation. Latin American countries are not invested in the people process, in the development process. Skills-based training is readily available for welders and similar positions, but we don’t have management-development programs; we don’t have engagement programs; we don’t have tools for measuring productivity. We have measurement systems based on volume, for profit per unit, but not on levers that enable the productivity to grow.
CEOs are not as knowledgeable about these types of productivity levers as they should be. Now they are asking us what do we do to engage their workers. That puts the onus on HR. We’re convinced that the fundamental lever is between boss and employee—providing feedback and recognition, setting goals, helping the employee to develop and move within the organization. Engagement is perhaps the best HR metric; there is more growth and profitability where engagement is high. It’s a strong measure.
A factor in the productivity gap is the traditional union relationship with management; it’s still a very adversarial, wage-based relationship.

Last year, Mexico implemented a major overhaul to labor laws enacted in 1970. Among other things, the new regulations make it easier to hire and fire. Did AMEDIRH have any input into these regulations?

AMEDIRH offered a lot of feedback in the creation of the new labor laws, and I’m pleased with them. They promote productivity. In Mexico it’s all about productivity. When we sit down with our union reps, the conversation invariably leads to productivity. Under the new regulations, every workplace with a union contract has to create a productivity commission, and the incentives for companies to drive productivity and compensation are based on those productivity gains. Our union employees see the impact of productivity—versus volume only—on the company’s longevity.
Another change is when severance is paid out. Under the new law, six to 12 months after hiring someone, if the new employee hasn’t worked out during this trial period or initial training period, the employer can terminate the worker without paying severance.
 

Tell us about the International Conference of Human Resources.
It’s September 10-11, 2014, at the World Trade Center in Mexico City. Last year 5,000 HR professionals attended. It’s a reflection of this new pull from the CEOs, who are talking about the role of HR and asking for HR’s help. That’s creating a demand for competencies and general knowledge from HR.
HR is not just the ‘common sense department’ anymore. HR has measurements, tools and a lot of metrics-based documentation of what works and what doesn’t work. 
Kathy Gurchiek is the associate editor for HR News.

Related Articles:
Mexico Increases Minimum Wage for 2014, SHRM Online Global Discipline, January 2014
Mexico Labor Reforms Increase Protection for Employees and Clarity for Employers, SHRM Online Global Discipline, February 2013
Mexico Employers Must Have Employee Productivity Training Programs
, SHRM Online Global Discipline, August 2013 
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