Mike Spurling, head of Learning Business at Forum Europe, claimed there is a big gap between how trainers see themselves and how they are viewed by senior managers.
Research by Forum showed that 90 per cent of training staff surveyed felt they were making a difference to their organisation, while less than five out of 10 executives and managers agreed.
"If training was a standalone business, it would be losing market share," he told delegates. "There is so much lack of knowledge about how much training is costing and its effectiveness. T&D should be treated as an enterprise and you must measure what matters."
Spurling believes business leaders were convinced that learning aids recruitment, retention, performance and productivity yet their investment in it was still low. The reasons, he said, were that some senior executives do not understand what training is about and do not talk the same language as T&D professionals.
Many were sceptical of the processes used and see training as too tactical, just for fixing problems. The lack of evidence of the value of training also requires too many business chiefs to make "leaps of faith" if they invest.
Spurling wants the profession to:
• Link T&D to business strategy
• Focus on business issues rather than training content
• Let customer demand shape T&D offerings
• Clarify T&D's business mission
• See T&D as an enterprise not as a function.