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SABPP 35th Anniversary: Top 35 highlights

In October 2017 we celebrate the 35th Anniversary of the SA Board for People Practices (SABPP) as the HR professional and quality assurance body of South Africa. It has been a rich history with many milestones along the journey to establishing HR as a fully-fledged profession in South Africa.  Despite several challenges and setbacks along this journey towards HR professionalisation, in this article I want to outline some of the biggest achievements over the last 35 years.  Some of the top highlights over the 35 years were as follows:

1 1982 SABPP established as a fully-fledged professional body for the HR profession.
2 1983 Professional registration committee formed and first HR professionals registered.
3 1983 First Code of Conduct for the HR Profession launched.
4 1984 SABPP crest registered with Bureau of Heraldry (Legal Deposits Act).
5 1985 First Charter of SABPP published in Government Gazette.
6 1989 First full-time Registrar appointed (Huma van Rensburg).
7 1989 First Annual Report published.
8 1990 Process starts to accredit universities and first universities accredited.
9 1990 First Generic HR Competency Model developed.
10 1992 Glossary of Personnel Terminology developed
11 1994 Programme of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) started.
12 1998 HR Standards Generating Body launched.
13 2002 Position of Registrar expanded to become Chief Executive Officer.
14 2002 SABPP appointed as Education and Training Quality Assurer by SAQA.
15 2007 HR Research Initiative formed to develop an HR research agenda for the profession.
16 2009 Master’s degree published on HR as a Profession.
17 2009 Opinion paper on HR as a Profession.
18 2009 Position paper on HR Implications of King III published.
19 2010 Start of series of annual SABPP Women’s Reports (2010-2017).
20 2011 Publishing of book “Wisdom from HR Mentors” featuring work of SABPP mentors.
21 2011 New strategy HR Voice launched to ignite a new growth path for SABPP.
22 2011 Embarked on process to establish social media platforms for SABPP.
23 2012 A new South African HR Competency Model launched (replacing 1990 model).
24 2012 SABPP recognised as a professional body by SAQA (new NQF Act).
25 2013 New series of monthly Fact Sheets produced.
26 2013 Development of first National HR Standards in the world.
27 2014 Development of HR Professional Practice Standards.
28 2015 Launch of HR Audit Unit and first companies audited against HR standards.
29 2016 Establish HR Standards department to drive HR standards in South Africa.
30 2015 Approval of SABPP professionals as Ex-Officio Commissioners of Oaths by the Minister of Justice (Justices of Peace and Commissioners of Oaths Act)
31 2015 Publishing of book Ethical Competence in HR Management Practice.
32 2016 Development of Labour Market Scenarios for 2030 with Clem Sunter.
33 2017 Complete the process of establishing 9 provincial committees, in addition to 12 student chapters throughout the country.
34 2017 South African Leadership Standard developed and launched.
35 2017 Publishing book HR Risk Management: Managing People Risks and Leveraging Opportunities.

Admittedly, it was not any easy task to limit this exercise to 35 milestones only, in fact, there were hundreds of other highlights not mentioned here and most of them are covered in the annual reports of SABPP.   What makes these achievements special, is that most of them were achieved by the dedicated commitment of hundreds of volunteers working with the SABPP management and staff to make it happen. Furthermore, in several cases one milestone opened the door for another or a series of new achievements to be realised.  For instance, the HR Competency model evolved into the HR Standards, which, in turn opened the door for HR Audits against the standards.  And so the journey continues to build on these milestones and to continue developing HR as a profession as new opportunities and challenges arise.   The current HR Voice 2.0 strategy below has been formulated to ensure that SABPP fulfils its mandate as an HR professional body in a way that will make a difference to professional work and impact of HR professionals.

As we celebrate the 35th anniversary of SABPP, I want to thank my predecessors for their sterling work in getting us here.  I also want to thank the hundreds of volunteers (board and committee members) for their time and effort supporting the SABPP office and staff in so many interesting, but value-adding projects.  If we build on these successes and embark on new projects and initiatives to take the HR profession forward, we will achieve more successes along the journey to HR professionalisation.

Marius Meyer is CEO of the SA Board for People Practices (SABPP).  The 35th Anniversary Celebration of SABPP will take place at the 5th Annual HR Standards conference on 26 October (see for more information). For daily updates about the work of SABPP, follow SABPP on twitter @SABPP1 and Instagram @sabpp_1 

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