Continuing professional development: The tale of the cobbler’s children

“People working in L&D are the cobbler’s children who have been left unshod,” says Adrian Snook, deputy chief executive of the Training Foundation, which offers a range of externally accredited courses within its Trainer Assessment Programme (TAP). “Organisations are constantly making new shoes – just not for them.”

According to Snook, the main reason for the neglect of continuing professional development (CPD) within learning and development (L&D) stems from the idea that the role is very straightforward.

“There isn’t a wide recognition that L&D people need a lot of development. While qualifications haven’t changed much, the role has – hugely,” he says.

“L&D specialists are expected to be able to look at business issues, identify the L&D-related ones, devise the optimum learning solution and project manage the design of these solutions before assessing return on investment (ROI) so they can prove they’re adding value. It’s a much more complex world now and L&D contains a richer set of roles.”

Track your development

While CPD for L&D staff is not absolutely critical in the same way that it is for lawyers, says David Crosby, events manager at training company Fenman, those who do demonstrate their commitment to CPD will be able to track their personal development and enhance their career prospects as a result.

Anything can count towards CPD, says Crosby: work experience/on-the-job training qualifications short courses informal learning, such as reading attending an event personal development and out-of-work activities.

“What a lot of trainers tend to think is that CPD simply involves stating that you have been on a training course,” says Beverly Crighton, exams manager and tutor at training provider BPP.

“But training is not just about classroom attendance – it’s about changing your mindset and what you learn from the experience.”

An individual matter

As staffin the L&D function have historically moved into the role from HR or another department, such as sales or IT, CPD has become an individual matter.

Martyn Sloman, adviser, learning, training and development at the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) says businesses should adopt a rounded approach to CPD in the L&D function – rather than simply ticking accreditation boxes.

“We offer a range of qualifications, but the emphasis is on the shift from an instructional to a more integrated approach [towards development] from companies in both the public and private sector. The L&D function requires various qualifications and experience. One of the characteristics of L&D specialists is that they are very good at understanding their organisation – what generates value in the business, for example – and that’s a very broad activity.”

Putting the case for CPD for training and L&D staff can be a hard-won battle, as board members are usually keen to see a tangible link between the training and ROI. So, to successfully maintain their CPD activities, training professionals must recognise an L&D-related business issue exists and act accordingly.

Currency in labour market

This also applies to transferable skills. “When it comes to getting qualifications and CPD, remember one thing: you need to have currency in the labour market,” says Sloman, who adds that the CIPD offers CPD advice for all of its members via contact centres.”Thosewho are seeking to recruit value qualifications, so you need to make sure that the training you undertake is recognised in the labour market.”

According to Crighton, acquiring transferable skills is very important.

“Any employer who does not take this view is being very short-sighted because at every juncture it’s better to have people who are keen to learn and moving themselves forward,” she says.

“When you look at the broader issue of what a personal qualification can deliver, you realise that you’ll actually improve your own organisation by having one. A good employer will recognise that broadening knowledge of employees will have a knock-on effect.”

The standard base-level training and L&D qualification is the CIPD certificate in training practice (CTP). It’s a five-module programme that integrates classroom-based training with written assignments and online support over a period of two years. The course costs £7,499 (+VAT), or £7,999 (+VAT)under the module by module payment plan. Fast-track CTP accreditation is also available in a 28-week course format priced at £4,195 (+VAT).

The CIPD has added a raft of L&D specific courses to its line-up in 2007 that are suitable for post-CTP L&D specialists and managers.These include advanced certificates in designing and delivering learning learning and development management development strategic L&D management, and managing organisation learning.

Face-to-face workshops

Each blended learning course consists of three face-to-face workshops, online activities, interactive and independent learning, with a written assignment and an examination at the end of the 20-week period. Individual courses are priced at £2,999 (+VAT). CIPD members also have access to a CPD advice service and online CPD record.

Training provider BPP runs CIPD programmes, which include two L&D specific courses – the CIPD CTP (a two-phase programme priced at £1,924) and part of the CIPD professional development scheme.

In the CIPD diploma in training anddevelopment (which is part of the professional development scheme), trainers can undertake the following four electives, totalling 12 training days: L&Dmanaging organisational learning andknowledge managing the training anddevelopment function and management development. The basic course fee is £2,690.

Winner of a 2005 Queen’s Award for Innovation, the Trainer Assessment Programme (TAP) offers a range of alternatives to CIPD courses. These comprise a host of classroom-based and online courses conceived and run by The Training Foundation.

The TAP courses are accredited by the Awarding Body Consortium (ABC), City & Guilds and the European Institute of E-Learning, and are designed for all levels of the L&D function.

The Training Foundation runs its own alternative to the CIPD’s CTP – the TAP diploma in learning facilitation skills. This course includes 120 hours in the classroom and a 60-hour mentored, work-based project. At the end of the programme, which costs £5,400 (+VAT), graduates receive an ABC grading of level five. Those who have a CTP qualification -pegged at level threeby the TAP -can also undertake a fast-track version of the diploma, comprising eight days in the classroom and a work-based design project for £2,500 excluding VAT.

Senior management courses include managing anL&Dfunction, a five-day residential course priced at £1,900 (+VAT). The TAP also offers a variety of courses for experienced trainers, including the certificate in assessing training delivery skills, priced at £1,900 (+VAT).

TAP-certified trainers can also join an online CPD community called ‘flow’free of charge. The site contains forums, articles, reports, podcasts, videos, self-study modules, case studies, FAQs, games, questionnaires and quizzes, as well as pre and post-course resources.

Enhance and upgrade

Training provider Fenman runs 14 open workshops for L&D professionals, with courses designed to enhance and upgrade their skills and help them become more strategic in their approach and outlook. These include: Train the Trainer Evaluation and Return on Investment and Developing and Implementing a Learning Strategy.

Most of the workshops, which do not offer formal qualifications, are one day and cost £497 (+VAT). A two-day Advanced Train the Trainer programme is also available for £897 (+VAT).

Case study: Hemsley Fraser

Learning & development (L&D) consultancy Hemsley Fraser is based in London and Plymouth. It designs, develops and delivers training programmes from junior to executive level, for both commercial and public sector companies across the UK, North America and Europe.

Concerned by the lack of formalised standards available in the L&D sector, the company assumed responsibility for the continuous professional development (CPD) of its 170 full-time staff and global associate network of around 400, by implementing a single accreditation across the board.

Iain Lovett, the firm’s chief executive, says there were two objectives: to present a unified CPD approach for both staff and clients and to support a qualification that would help harmonise the industry. “While qualifications in areas like law are well-defined, as a profession L&D is still in its infancy, so such standards haven’t been clearly developed or determined,” he states.

Hemsley Fraser identified the Training Foundation’s TAP standard, as the emerging de facto accreditation for the industry.

It agreed a rollout of the TAP Delivery Skills Refresher course for experienced trainers from January to December 2007, and is running the programme in maximum groups of six from its offices in Grosvenor Square, London. Successful delegates have to complete two hours of e-learning, homework and three classroom study days to qualify for a TAP Certificate in Training Delivery Skills.

The firm aims to have all full-time staff accredited by the end of June, with associate members completing their training by the end of the year. It also plans to implement TAP in its North American and global associate offices within two years.

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