VPP Center for Knowledge of Professionel Assessment
VPP (Videnscenter for Professionel Personvurdering) directly translated means: “Center for Knowledge of Professional Assessment" (of persons in occupational settings) .
Established in 2005, VPP is a non-profit, member-run organization that represents everybody who is concerned about quality and fairness in assessment practices in an occupational setting. The reason we say assessment instead of testing is that interview, taking references, etc also is included. The VPP started as a grass root movement aimed at making a national code for quality and fairness in assessment practices in occupational settings. Becoming a national institution we made the grass root movement into a formal association “VPP” in 2005, where everybody concerned about assessment in occupational settings can be a member. Our aim has broadened and now include being a center for knowledge about assessment.
The board of VPP consist of 17 members and represent different interest groups in an assessment context:
National institutions: “The Danish Confederation of Trade Unions”, “HK” (trade union for commercial and clerical employees), “DI" (The Confederation of Danish Industry), “Danish Psychological Association”, “The Danish Association of Managers and Executives”, “The Unemployment Insurance Fund for Academics”.
Large companies: “The Danish Post”, “TDC” (leading provider of communications solutions in Denmark), “Nykredit” (largest mortgage provider in Denmark)
Providers of assessment tools and consultanting services: “Saville consulting”, “SHL”, “Kjerulf & Partnere”, “OPP” and “Center for Leadership”.
The only staff is a part time secretary (low budget). We have 100 members (companies and individuals (many test suppliers and consultants)).
We are still growing.
The highest authority is the generel assemply, held every year in february. Here the board is selected and a plan for the coming years activities is decided.
Four meetings a year for members where we discuss central assessment matters.
The basic development in VPP comes from the work in small voluntary groups. Based on interests small workgroups meet to discuss and formulate policies, procedures and methods to assess people in work and organizational settings.
A central event is an open conference once a year.
A conference every year
The aim of the conference is to bring new knowledge in discussion and to influence the future work in VPP, which now is the official organisation for professional and ethically sound personnel assessment in Denmark.
Evaluation of the present standards – what might be added to the present and future standards – what should be the primary task for VPP in the year to come.
Hopefully at the end of each conference a new chapter of how to practise fair and ethically sound personnel assessment and selection in a work setting can be written.
A brief historical view
Information about the Danish work on establishing standards for fair and ethical personnel assessment in a business setting
A brief historical view
In 1997 an initiative concerning personnel assessment and selection was taken by three large test publishers.
The initiative addressed the increased use of testing and structured personnel assessment and aimed at presenting quality norms relating to interviewing, testing and reference taking. A draft of suggested standards was written and everyone who had in interest in personnel assessment and selection, i.e. test publishing firms, consultancy firms, private and public organisations and the end users (job applicants) were invited to attend a conference with the aim of debating and refining the standards.
Prior to the initiative quite often criticism of the lawless practises of personnel assessment had made headlines in newspapers and other media. It seemed that many job applicants had stories to tell of malpractice of selection procedures or of obscure personlity tests which added little or no value to the final hiring decision.
The first initiative was backed by large parts of the Danish consultancy world, by firms and by organisations. After the first conference held in September 1997 a group (called the Reference Group) was formed to further discuss the proposed standards and to rewrite them. Also the members of the group were to be a sort of unofficial ambassadors of good personnel practise and to ensure that all opinions were taken into account.
The standards have been reviewed and rewritten on an ongoing basis.
Every second year (now it is every year) new conferences have been held – and always with an open invitation to everyone interested to participate and to give resources to the further work.
In 1999 the theme again was setting a Danish standard for the use of Testing, Interviewing and Reference Taking.
In 2001 the theme centred on Personnel assessment and the use of the Internet.
Since the first conference The Reference Group has consisted of between 15-25 persons that have been active debating and writing standards and preparing conferences. They represent firms and private and public organisations. Apart from the two main initiators the involvement of the Danish Psychologist Organisation should specifically be mentioned. The involvement and support of the DPO has definitely furthered the knowledge of and the acceptance of the suggested standards. And not less important has prevented a rather useless discussion of who might be the rightful guardian of good personnel assessment (read: a discussion of whether academics/psychologists or practitioners should decide in this area).
Just before the present organisation VPP was created, the first chairman wrote:
As the historic view should indicate quite a lot of activity has been going on and results have been made. However, realistically the standards still exist on a fragile basis:
- The debate and the maintenance of the standards is totally based on voluntary work from people who think that this is such an important issue that they give their own and their firms’ time to further the issue
- The standards are still a “hidden secret” to many firms and organisations. As a voluntary organisation the Reference Group” has not had sufficient resources to market their knowledge and views professionally
- The standards have no legal or other consequence. Any firm can sign up that they adhere to the standards, but there is no guarantee that this is actually the case. The work is thus based on a very high degree of trust, which sometimes has given rise to frustration when stories of malpractice arise.
The conclusion of the Reference group has been that it is about time that a new setting, maybe an official organisation should take over from now. The role of the Reference Group in the future setting might be one of an advisory board – but also this to be debated.