new Institute of Training and Occupational Learning aims to reinstate training
as a profession in its own right, rather than as a sub-division of HR
management. Director Jeffrey Brooks explains how the new body will differ from
Institute of Training and Occupational Learning (ITOL) has been developed as a
result of discussions within a group of practising trainers who have informally
networked over a number of years to aid their own development. We had become
increasingly frustrated by what we saw as a lack of support and encouragement
for the recognition and development of training as a distinct profession rather
than a subsumed and minor part of HR management.
to our ourselves – and to the wider rumblings of discontent about these issues
from other trainers – and waiting in vain for someone else to take the
initiative, we were eventually forced to conclude that we would have to do
something about it ourselves.
institute was set up in February with myself as full-time director based in
Stockport, Cheshire. I am taking a year out of my own training consultancy to
believe we are here to stay. We have the funds to sustain the institute for one
year irrespective of membership take-up rate. However, we need to have reached
a critical mass of membership by the beginning of next year to finance the
following year’s operations.
response has been most encouraging with lots of membership information requests
and applications together with a number of messages of support including some
from rather surprising sources.
what is different about ITOL and what would encourage trainers to join? I
suppose the first thing that needs to be said is that we believe ITOL is the
only body of its kind in the UK solely committed to trainers and development
practitioners. This means that our membership may be drawn from people working
as trainers in industry, commerce or the armed forces, from training and
development consultants and from those working in vocational education in
further or higher education.
is a wide audience and it involves people working in a wide variety of roles
and operational circumstances but the common link throughout is that they all
help others to learn and are interested in how to make that learning process
more effective. Many have looked at other professional institutions such as the
IPD, but have been discouraged by membership criteria which prevents their entry
on the grounds that their qualifications or experience are too narrowly focused
on training and development.
seems as silly to us as asking a marine engineer to widen their studies to
include dancing skills because they may at some point have to work on a cruise
want ITOL members to be focused on training and development. People do not
question the notion that teaching is a profession, so why not training? What is
the difference apart from the age of the learners?
I could see the potential benefit in certain marine engineers having dancing
skills but that would be as a job-specific skill, not as a requirement of the
membership entrance criteria form another distinguishing feature. We have three
grades of membership: Fellow, Member and Associate Member. Our approach differs
in that in addition to the role and experience requirements, the professional
qualifications required at each membership level are different.
the level of Fellow, we require essentially an NVQ Level 5 or post-graduate
qualification, whereas at Member level the requirement is for NVQ Level 3 or
Certificate in Training and Development or similar and at Associate level we
require an Instructor’s certificate or similar.
recognise that training and development professionals may have taken various
qualification routes over the years and this diversity makes it difficult to be
prescriptive in relation to membership criteria. Each application is carefully
considered on its own merits by our admissions panel.
members, for members
difference in our approach is that we intend to create an institute for
learning which is “by the members, for the members”. By that I mean we are
trying to create a real learning climate within which our members can grow and
develop, by encouraging members to assist the development of other members.
journal – which at the moment is published biannually, with plans to go
quarterly next year – is not a magazine, it is a learned journal which sets out
to critically examine training and development issues. Five of the eight
contributors to the first issue are ITOL members and we would like future
issues to have even more member contributions. These are substantial articles,
the longest being 16 pages and the average article length being 10 pages.
Sufficient space is granted in the journal to enable the topics to be developed
thoroughly and we regard it as a significant development tool in itself. Those
members who contributed to the journal not only assisted the learning of other
members, but also contributed to their own professional development.
example of this approach is our “ask an expert” helpline, a telephone advice
service where volunteer members are able to offer free specialist advice to
other members on topics as diverse as trainer training, sales and negotiation
training, health and safety training, learning organisations, web site design
etc, a real example of “by the members, for the members”.
further example of this approach is the “virtual working party” of members
which will address the issue of our own qualification structure. We intend to
offer two new qualifications, the working titles being the Diploma in the
Management of Training and the Certificate in Training and Occupational
development of these qualifications is in the hands of the membership rather
than the staff of the institute. Incidentally, unlike most other institutions,
ITOL will not be offering any training courses itself. Many of our members make
their living from the provision of such training and we have no intention of
taking a membership subscription from them and then competing with them in the
marketplace. To do so would be unethical and discriminatory to our training
trainers have been grumbling for years about the issues ITOL is trying to
address – now is the time to stand up and be counted.