An open letter to my colleagues who are or aspiring to be Registered Psychometrists…
I write this blog with much trepidation. No one likes to receive bad news. However, the beauty of problems (if you are an avid problem solver) is that there are always solutions on the table – if you’re willing to look for or consider them.
I registered as a Psychometrist in 2010. The journey was not a simple one, with almost losing my place in the BPsych course through UNISA due to some administrative hiccup. I fought my way into retaining my placement, and was so immensely proud when I passed my Board Exam first time, and went on to register with the Health Professions Council of South Africa.
My initial experience in the career was exciting at first (hell, anything new is exciting), but even in those early days, I found the scope of work fairly limiting.
Assess, score assessments, write report. Repeat.
It is no wonder after two years working for an Assessment House, I made a massive shift and went off to manage a national corporate radio station.
Three years later, with my heart still head over heels in love with human behaviour, psychology and analysing behavioural trends and performance, I decided to wipe the dust off of my shiny registration. Holistan was subsequently born.
Although officially a Registered Psychometrist, I now had (for the first time) the opportunity to broaden my scope, and force my way into unknown territories. I upskilled through formal courses and the University of Life, bumping my head along the way. I dabbled in tendering for massive contracts, a bit of recruitment, marketing underpinned by consumer behaviour, and lots more.
I started out believing I was competing with the big Assessment Agencies in South Africa, and quickly learned that without a team of human capital, sophisticated technologies at my disposal, and bucket loads of cash flow, I had to go back to the drawing board. I introspected, looked at what my unique set of skills, interests and passions were, and used this as my springboard to success.
The Current State of Affairs
I am often inundated with CVs of newly registered psychometrists, bursting with excitement and underlying anxiety, asking me if I have any employment opportunities at Holistan. After yet another email recommending they connect with one of the big consultancies, I hear that their search has been ongoing for months. Sometimes years.
Perhaps more disturbingly, are the number of emails I receive from individuals seeking advise with regards to where they can secure an internship to complete their hours for their psychometric registration.
In my humble opinion, we are creating a wave of highly qualified, technical experts with a market that has few places to award them.
Taking the blinkers off
Embarrassingly, I only really took my blinkers off very, very recently and looked at what other countries are doing when it comes to Psychometry. I was shocked to learn that the category of Registered Psychometrist DOES NOT EXIST overseas!
But what about my beautiful, prestigious, shiny registration??
At best, if I practiced abroad, I would be recognised as a Post-Graduate Psychology professional.
International Best Practice
Registration with boards of control is different in each country. To date, there are no boards in Namibia and the rest of Africa.
In Europe, all the countries have different rules. In the USA they have registration of Psychologists and the tools they use must have validation and reliability certification from an academic institution.
Looking at the big guys like Korn Ferry, Cappfinity and Thomas International (and plenty others), you’ll see a golden thread across these industry leaders. The administration of assessments is not by a psychometrist.
In the instance such as working in assessments in the United Kingdom, one simply does a (short) course to enable them to register with the BPS (British Psychology Society) as a test user.
No applying (and possibly getting declined) into a university.
No practical hours.
No holding a fancy title that leads to few work prospects.
Perhaps we, here in South Africa, can look at what our counter parts are doing in the States, Europe, the Far East, and Australasia.
The cutting truth is this: being competent in administering, scoring, and reporting on someone should not be a university qualification in itself. In the spirit of a Gestalt perspective, Psychometry should be a small part of a bigger function.
The Collateral Damage
With industry 4.0 being well and truly with us, we are going to see tons of professions completely wiped out – not just Registered Psychometrists.
The work of an accountant has become almost completely automated, only requiring a signature in some instances. My late step-father was a successful stock-broker and had an impressive database of portfolios that he represented; today, anybody who is anybody can play the markets themselves, thanks to sophisticated web applications and fancy apps. Medical professionals are too at threat, with many medical procedures becoming automated. For more on this watch my video here.
Imagine a skilled typist, 30 years ago, who refused to become computer literate, because she could bang out 120 words per minute. Where would she be today if she did not embrace change, growth, and development?
Where to from here?
We as Registered Psychometrists (or in fact any professional whose job can be automated) have to face a brutal truth: we cannot use our registration as a professional protection mechanism.
Firstly, as we have now seen, registered test user courses (that may take you two days to complete) allow the professional to use these psychometric tools.
Secondly, the developments of tools are likely going to put so much pressure around registration authorities, that non-registered systems will eventually take hold of the market. It is pure economics.
I am absolutely NOT saying assessment tools and techniques that cannot produce credible validity and reliability data will be at the forefront. What I AM saying is that there is little to no protection of your registration category if you think that you can happily practice as a psychometrist until retirement. The sooner you hear the message the better: your role will be obsolete. Perhaps it already is?
If you are using paper based tests that must be interpreted by a specialist professional, I am afraid they have reached the end of their shelf-life.
Rather get on the future development. Rather stay with the Industry 4.0 evolution and stay relevant.
If you are sold on utilising registered instruments, then my best advice is to continue to do so if it makes you feel good and protected.
However, some good news for some, bad news for others: I have found in my professional experience that it is not my academic success that makes people pay attention. It is the track record I possess, what I have done, and the experience I have that make people sit up and listen.
Continuously upskill. Do not think your learnings stopped at university. Give yourself stretch assignments. Read empowering books that will give you latitude in your practice, instead of being constrained by your narrow scope. In the words of Richard Branson, say “Yes!” now and learn how to do it later.
Which ever path you decide to embark on, I wish you all the best!
Special thanks to Pieter de Villiers for his insights on this hot topic!
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