The Business Dictionary defines a ‘professional body’ as a; “Trade association of
an organised profession that certifies successful completion of its requirements, and
thereupon awards a license and bestows a recognised appellation (designation). Professional
bodies usually prescribe a discretionary or mandatory code of conduct for their members.”
The question arises – do these associations add value for their members?
Mark Orpen, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of The Institute of People Development
(IPD), believes that they do. “Professionalism isincredibly important in the skills development
(SD) and learning and development (L&D) environment,” says Orpen. “However, while the
key to quality and efficiency is professionalism, it is the codes of conduct and ethical practices
of an individual that define the profession. As such, the intervention of professional bodies
builds the individual, in turn making the industry a more professional one.”
In the SD and L&D sector, these bodies play a pivotal role in developing a proficient and morethan-adequately skilled labour force. “Professional bodies serve members by creating a
platform for real, valuable, and practical value exchange. From knowledge sharing, to creating
access to resources, benchmarking best practice, and creating communities of expert
practice, their input is invaluable,” confirms Orpen.
When considering membership to a relevant professional body – such as the Marketing
Association of South Africa (MA[SA]), or the SA Board for People Practices (SABPP), two
options are usually available; corporate membership and individual membership. “Individuals
decide whether they will honour the profession by their accountability to exemplary
practices,” adds Orpen. “Companies that pledge commitment to these practices through
corporate membership present themselves as an extension of either the professional body,
or the individual; which roles need to be well defined. Often companies simply pay for their
employees’ professional membership fees.”
The advantages of a membership include the resultant access to current knowledge and
practices, through continuous professional development (CPD). “When the perceived value
of the networking, information sharing and learning outcomes exceeds the cost to participate,
membership is strengthened.” As is the case with most membership platforms, some
disadvantages do occur. “Most associations become tested as platforms where individuals
influence others for their personal aims. The leadership of an association (or professional
body) remains the critical success factor – along with healthy communication, a commitment
to quality and a culture of sharing and learning.”
When considering membership to a professional body, Orpen encourages potential members
to check the professional body’s credentials. “The South African Qualifications Authority
(SAQA) accredits professional bodies and measures their performance,” he concludes.
“Successful professional bodies manage member records, implement online CPD and events
that synchronise real time, provide cloud access to members to view their professional
development and status, and deploy established and reliable technologies. They also ensure
that learning is conducted through reputable institutions.”

  • ENDS –


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