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CIPD and the Grumpy Freelance Trainer


Since 1984, I have been a member of the CIPD (originally from the old ITD). I am a Chartered Fellow and regularly attend and speak at branch events. However, over the past few years, I feel a bit cheated. Cheated in that I am paying a fair amount of money for my annual subscriptions and subsidising CIPD to aggressively market and promote training events and coaching in direct competition to myself. Am I mad? I do recognise that there is an argument that if they generate revenue from these sources then it helps to subsidise other activities. However, as a trainer and a freelancer, I feel quite let down by the CIPD now. I feel that learning is secondary within the CIPD and perhaps, only a route to the clearly higher level status of being a full HR professional.  What if I can't be bothered with the design of policies and procedures of discrimination or company clothing as a profession but just want to develop people's roles and skills? I've looked at and am considering other bodies like BILD and so on. I just thought before I decide, as the subscriptions will be upon us next year, I'd check what other trainers thought, especially if you run your own skills business.

Grumpy Alec

Skills Channel TV

8 Responses

  1. Me too!


    I know what you mean. I pay up every year (‘cos it looks good on my CV), but rarely attend any local events (most are geared towards their qualification or employment law updates), and find most of the L&D focus in People Management is around government schemes. I do not attend the conference because the cost is prohibitive for a self-emplyed person. Not saying that the CIPD isn’t useful, but I agree that I seem to pay a lot for limited benefits. I too would be interested in alternatives, but don’t want to be considered less of a professional. It’s a connundrum!

  2. been there done that…..

    I let my mmbership lapse a couple of years ago for precisely the reasons that Alec and Sheridan mention


  3. Non Membership is not a barrier
    I have never been a member and this has never been a barrier to me obtaining work. I worked at a senior level in learning and development (Global Head of L and D, FTSE 250 company) and have since then run a successful freelance business. As a freelancer I have never once been asked if I am a member of the CIPD. I continuously develop my skills and knowledge, read widely and attend numerous business events. I haven’t got anything against the CIPD and have supported colleagues gain membership in the past, I just decided many years ago to take a different path to gain knowledge and experience and I don’t feel as though I have missed out.


  4. High cost – low return
    I was awareded a masters degree in 2000 and the university claimed this would enable me to achieve automatic fellowship status with CIPD given my 20 years exeprience in MD, OD, Change and T&D.

    My surprise was somehow not too great when the CIPD explained that they had changed their policy and that I would have to qualify through the CIPD’s own exams or by professional assessment bith at great additional cost of several thousands of pounds. So I seriously looked into this as an option checking out the T&D offering that members who were focused on training could expect to receive.

    There was, and still seems to be very little, and certainly nothing like the range of resources and facilities available for the HR generalists. So I did not and will not go through the CIPD entry process at huge expense to gain an accreditation, the lack of which has had no impact on me as a freelancer or in applying for full time roles.

    There are many good learning organisations that support trainers in a practical and professional capacity, the virtual ones include trainingzone. The most helpful source of developement and personal growth for me has come from John Seymour’s NLP trainer course for trainers which has transformed my practice and enabled me to transfer skills more effectively.

    Trainers, freelacne or in house, should look around at the organisations which fit their own profile and needs but the CIPD, sadly, will probably not be in any shortlist.


  5. So what do I get from the CIPD as a freelance trainer?

    Sadly, everyone’s comments ring true for me to. At the moment I hold a committee post at branch level, for networking purposes.

    I may put myself through the PAC route to get my CIPD membership – I am doing this because some potential work may come my way which requires me to do this.

    Until the CIPD offers genuine specialist routes, e.g. L&D, Recruitment to full & fellow membership status, then it is not benefiting many of the HR professionals that it claims to represent.


  6. How about ITOL as an alternative?

    Hello All,

    I too gave up membership of the CIPD and have instead joined ITOL (Institute of Training and Occupational Learning).

    With a psychology degree, an MSc in Human Communication and over 10 years of practical training experience I was able to gain fellowship status so can officially use FITOL after my name.  I rarely do, but I was pleased to get it.

    They have a focus on training and development rather than HR so I feel they talk the same language as me.

    I think they have recently undergone some internal changes so haven’t had a conference for a couple of years but I’m told they are planning one.  And they produce a nice little regular magazine too.  and they also have a good insurance deal.

    It feels more like a community that you can have an input into than CIPD did – but they don’t have the same spread as CIPD.  Having said that I’ve never been asked about my membership of CIPD as part of getting business either.

    One of the things I really like is if you ring or get in touch they all seem to know who you are so if you do join them then say hello from me.

    Stella Collins FITOL (there I’ve used it now).



  7. I never know which one to back!

    Sadly, I remain a member of all of them (CIPD, ITOL, BCS etc) just in the CIPD case they change their policy to become more relevant to L&D and I have to start again.

    Having said that, I have yet to find a buyer who even knows what these organisations are or represent so I am probably wasting more than most!

    I really must consolidate and now appears to be as good a time as any – but I never was a good gambler, so which one do I back? ūüôā



  8. As a freelance CIPD works for me

    Well I have been an active CIPD, ex IPM and ex ITD member/fellow whatever for 25 years, and it is well worth the cost as I get a lot of benefit.

    In my considerable experience too few members make the best use of what they pay for – making no use of for instance the library services especailly electronic, and in addition don’t see that membership is seen as a positive diferentiator more than they might think – especially by those that hold that same membership abnd expect it of others.

    We can all want more, and I used both my ITD and IPM votes to oppose merger all that time ago, but my advise is, get in there, stay in there and be active to get value.

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