Best in show

Stephanie Sparrow looks at the latest training and development innovations coming up at HRD 2004

An upbeat mood is forecast in Olympia this year as the training community gathers to share ideas and best practice. Thousands of practitioners are expected to attend HRD 2004, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) annual conference and exhibition for all those involved in the development of people.

Fuelling the sense of optimism will be the results of the CIPD’s Annual Training Survey (free to conference delegates), which tracks trends in UK organisations.

“This year’s survey is set to paint an upbeat picture, with budgets on the rise, high performance working practices being adopted and best practices beginning to create a real learning culture in many workplaces,” says Jessica Rolph, learning, training and development adviser at the CIPD.

Although the detail of the survey results will be kept under wraps until 20 April, key trends are emerging. There are strong hints that employers are displaying real enthusiasm for coaching and maintaining their interest in e-learning.

Rolph believes lack of time for training in many organisations is also forcing practitioners to adapt their approach. The survey is expected to show that there has been a move towards ‘bite-sized’ learning opportunities and more flexible provision of learning materials.

Online learning

The three-day exhibition picks up on the survey’s results, with online learning, leadership development, coaching and self-managed learning among the topics on show.

Designed as a highly practical exhibition, HRD 2004 gives visitors the chance to get some ‘hands-on’ experience via interactive learning events, ‘topic tasters’ and presentations.

Among the topic taster providers is Video Arts which will showing ‘Its time for a new approach to appraisals’ on 21 April between 13.15 and 13.45.

Video Arts will investigate research which reveals that 30 per cent of appraisals are a waste of time, and the firm will demonstrate how both sides can get more out of performance reviews. Highlights from Performance Review, the new Video Arts programme will also be featured.

Video Arts is also taking advantage of another innovation at the show, the new video booths which will be placed in Olympia 2, level 1, and will be used to show the latest in training video and DVD releases throughout the three days of the event. Video Arts will be joined by award-winning producer Supernova and independent UK distributor Open Mind.

Included in the Supernova offerings will be titles featuring TV chef Rick Stein giving a taste of his recipes for managing and motivating people.

Also on level 1 will be the new product demonstration areas – the Demo Rooms – where exhibitors will be staging lively and interactive product demonstrations throughout the event.

Among those who have announced a presence are Futuremedia, theatre in the workplace company ImpAct UK, and learning and events company The Wizards Network, known for adventurous ideas, such as teambuilding with chocolate.

Futuremedia is inviting visitors to experience the use of games technology to create exciting interactive learning environments. It hopes to engage visitors in the process of discovery by setting up an HRD challenge to provide training simulations linked to in-built assessment activities.

Would- be participants in another new introduction at HRD, The Learning Challenge, are advised to book early. These free 90-minute sessions are designed to improve participants’ learning and personal development by involving them in interactive activities. Numbers to these sessions will be restricted to 20 and delegates can choose from diverse topics in creative thinking and experiential learning.


Experiential learning looks like having a high profile this year. Aside from the well-known names such as Impact Development Training Group and Dove Nest Group are newcomers such as Mission Excellence , founded by former RAF fighter pilot Justin Hughes, which runs seminars on teamwork and leadership skills led by ex-Red Arrows and RAF fighter pilots.

In all, HRD 2004 is promising to feature plenty of new names as well as established providers. Business schools, training consultancies, e-learning providers, Government departments and the European Commission are among the diverse range of organisations at the exhibition providing practical information and advice on their training and development services.

Speaking up for learning

Running alongside the exhibition is the annual conference. More than 40 seminars will be on offer, presented in a range of delivery styles from Masterclasses through to case studies and debates. Stars from the media, such as Peter Collett, the resident psychologist on Channel 4’s Big Brother and former  Olympic athlete Sally Gunnell will be joining high-profile experts from the world of people development such as John Adair and Kevin Warwick, professor of cybernetics at the University of Reading.

When and where

HRD 2004: CIPD Annual Learning, Training and Development Exhibition and Conference

When? 20-22 April, 2004

Times: 10.00-17.15 on 20 and 21 and 10.00-16 00 on 22 April

Where? The National Hall, London Olympia

Travel and booking details: For travel details visit the website. To book either visit the website or phone the conference registrar on 020 8263 3434

All other enquiries contact the customer services team by e-mail on [email protected]

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