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Seb Anthony

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How many professional bodies does L&D need?

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ASTD and REED Learning recently announced the formation of a partnership in the UK, one that will see REED Learning take on the mantle of ASTD's partner in the UK. Training Journal were quick to identify the appointment of REED as ASTD's UK delivery partner, as being competition for CIPD's qualifications. 

I disagree with that assertion, on the simple premise that I believe CIPD have long since vacated the L&D professional arena, and it is a matter of fact that they have downgraded their own CIPD Certificate in L&D practice (CTP) to the status of an Associate Membership qualification. Frankly I don't believe the ASTD/REED partnership is any threat to CIPD's position as a professional and standards body for HR practitioners; I wish CIPD every success in championing the HR profession, but for me L&D is headed for a higher peak than HR can lead me to.

Having attended today's joint ASTD/REED launch event in London, I believe the real competition that this partnership creates is for IITT. Why? IITT have evolved to become the professional body representing workplace L&D in the UK. Just as ASTD no longer spell out their title in full in order to emphasise their international credentials, the IITT likewise are keen to move on from their IT Training roots and take centre stage in the L&D profession. That said, the much rumoured IITT rebranding is now very much overdue in my opinion.

Evidence for that shift in IITT's centre of gravity may be found among the diverse membership of IITT, both individual and corporate, among the numerous companies the IITT accredit every year, and among the wealth of L&D practitioners who have and continue to certify with the IITT's TPMA and COLF qualifications. The IITT's advisory board is a "Who's who?" of L&D industry senators, and the IITT's annual awards are anything but centred on the IT industry.

The ASTD/REED partnership will bring new QCF aligned qualifications to the UK L&D profession, including a qualification at QCF level 3, and a QCF level 5 qualification based upon the ASTD competency model and accredited by EDI. Furthermore REED will launch an academy for L&D professional development - and have plans to run UK events for L&D practitioners along the lines of the various chapters/events that ASTD are well known for in the US. REED will also bring the ASTD's Certified Practitioner in Learning & Performance (CPLP®) to the UK - a professional qualification much sought after in the US, and considered by some as the gold standard. If what I saw, heard and discussed with ASTD/REED at their partnership launch event is anything to go by, then they certainly have their act together and will significantly raise the bar for L&D professionalism in the UK.

I'm broadly in favour of this ASTD/REED partnership, if done right it could be really good for the L&D profession in the UK raising our standing in business and opening our profession to a more international community. I do have my reservations about the introduction of another framework/competency model for L&D professionals, and another set of professional qualifications - further fracturing a profession already awash with professional bodies (BILD, ITOL, IfL, IITT) and qualifications in the UK. My hope and desire is that IITT and REED/ASTD will work in partnership to consolidate and unify the professional landscape rather than carve up the space CIPD vacated some time ago...

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