Is it time to licence?

When you think about other professions you think about standards, their governing bodies.  Recently the recruitment industry trade body REC launched their new individual membership proposition the institute of recruitment professionals with some mixed results and feedback.  What has been missed is the bigger picture, membership of a professional body is the start point and my biased opinion a good start point (contact me for membership details) but why stop there, why not take it further and ‘licence’ recruitment consultants. Now whilst I’m not suggesting for a minute the role of a recruitment consultant is life critical or impacts on society in the same way as a lawyer it does carry far greater responsibility than is generally acknowledged.  But the idea of a licence isn’t new. In medicine for example, a nurse or doctor has to show how they have kept their knowledge up-to-date, something that REC/IRP is also pushing for all but what if we took it to the next level.  The need for a licence before you can recruit?

So if you start with a blank piece of paper and decide to create a programme to licence consultants, where would you start and what would it cover?  For me It’s about structure and standards.  Our profession is based on the commercial realities of the businesses we work in.  My executive search business would be run differently to say a provider of manufacturing temps but the basics are the same, the need for a professional approach, understanding of employment law etc. should be the same.

It also makes sense to me that you can measure capability based on licence qualification, demonstrable experience etc.  But it would be easier for individual consultants to prove they had the knowledge and understanding and some form of log maybe to record continuing professional development (CPD).  It would also allow consultants to demonstrate capability across in-house and external roles and potentially make it easier to move between the two?

I do see the need to make it an active registration approach, the need to re-register every 3 or 5 years, would help to ensure that all consultants keep their practice up-to-date and continue to develop professionally.

So what do you think, good idea or not, what are the pitfalls and given the recent comments about REC who would manage and govern the process?

For more information on IRP go to or contact Martin Dangerfield either on 0161 955 3647 or email  As well as being a Regional Director for the IRP Martin is Director of the innovative search business mckinley|resource, a freelance people consultant specialising in talent attraction, assessment and recruitment and a provider of business coaching for high growth entrepreneurial organisations.