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Has Learning and Development passed its sell-by date


We've gone beyond simply being a training team and even learning and development seems to be a constraint. Just what should we call ourselves now?

These days, we have the ability (I'm not saying we do!) to offer solutions to meet development needs that include coaching and mentoring, self-directed learning, knowledge sharing, assessments, competency frameworks, workshops, personal development plans using books, video, virtual classrooms, elearning, tutor support, online resources and courses, blended packages, and the odd course thrown in, to name just a few. We are facilitators, managers, co-ercers, change managers and motivators.

The one activity I definitely don't do is deliver a face to face training course.

What do I call myself and the team around me that captures the subtleties and complexity of what we do but that won't confuse the audience.
Katherine Chapman

11 Responses

  1. What’s in a name?
    Hi Katherine

    In my previous company, we called ourselves the ‘Training Academy’ and had departments based on the areas of training we delivered, such as Service Academy, Sales Academy and Management Academy.

    Hope this starts the ball rolling for you!


  2. by any other name, etc…
    How about Performance Team? I’m presuming that all you do is to improve the performance of the people who work with you.

    But I also like Lisa’s Academy tag, so how about Performance Academy?

    You might need to do a bit more than change the name, though. Almost an internal branding exercise for your team, I would say! Good luck!

  3. ASTD survey
    A recent survey by the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) asked: “Which name or label would you prefer our profession to be called?”

    From a total of 1,340 respondents, the results were:
    Training – 1.4%
    Training and Development – 31%
    Human Resource Development – 14.3%
    Workplace Learning and Performance – 31.9%
    Workforce Development – 10.7%
    Other – 10.7%

    Encouragingly for ITOL, titles using the terms training, learning and workplace (or ‘occupational’ in our case) seem to have been the most favoured.

    Though I would argue that all of the learning methods used by Katherine and her team are the same as those used by any professional training team, if the title is causing Katherine’s clients some confusion perhaps a new name is necessary.

    Why not ask your clients what title they would prefer you to have? Even if no consensus is reached, the debate itself would surely be worthwhile.

    When ITOL carried out some informal research on this, we found that customers preferred titles that included terms they were familiar with and that reflected the work carried out. Hardly surprisingly, the most common suggestions included the terms ‘training’ and ‘learning’.

    Jeffrey Brooks
    Institute of Training and Occupational Learning.

  4. Learning and Development Advisors
    What about Learning and Development Advisors (LDA’s)?

    The MOD have developed a network of training professionals under this banner whose main purpose and role is that which you describe as yours. Deciding and advising their customers of solutions to their learning and development issues.

  5. Skills Coaches
    In the near future there is going to be a new, and urgent emphasis on vocational skills development in the widest sense. The fastest way to enable people to acquire these skills involves quite a lot of demonstration and practice – and, yes, face to face training.

    So I suggest that we should call ourselves Skills Coaches: people who can motivate and help our colleagues to acquire the skills they need to do their jobs well.

  6. Performance Department
    In Australia we have seen training departments evolve into all types of people development departments, learning departments, skills development departments and so on.

    As one other respondent said, performance is a good title for a department which, ultimately is intended to improve individual and organisational performance.

    The idea of lumping the quality control, auditing and learning and development (or whatever you call it) departments together appeals to me. Also, there needs to be a link with the department responsible for issuing policies and procedures. The interaction between each of these functions allows a more synergistic approach to performance improvement or maintenance across an organisation.

  7. Training team name
    I previously worked in a team called “People Enablers”. It seems to cover all the aspects of your role

  8. Learning and Development
    I think I understand Katherine’s dilemma, but ignoring the ‘how’ of what we do, surely the ‘what’ is still learning and development?

    I hope this may be helpful!


  9. I’ll gaze at MY navel if …
    I’m fascinated, both by the question AND by some of the answers. Primarily because of the constant emphasis on what “we” can do for “them”.

    A few thoughts suggest themselves:

    1. NO trainer. whatever title they used, EVER motivated someone else. We may *help* people to put their motivation to good use, but we DON’T motivate.

    2. The best estimate of the effectiveness of the most productive training on offer is only 13%. The other 87% depends on the trainee.

    3. Why worry about labels anyway? Does anyone seriously believe that trainees will learn more, or more effectively, with someone who calls themself a “facilitator”, or an “enabler” or whatever? Just how stupid/gullible do we imagine our trainees are?

    4. The measure of ANY training is its effectiveness. No amount of label juggling is going to change that. So maybe we should be more concerned with providing the best training we know how rather than the amount and colour of the “scrambled egg” on the peaks of our caps?


    Be well

    Andy B.

  10. navel gazing, continued
    I don’t often feel the need to get into debates about what I do, but I felt Andy’s comment needed a response.

    While I might agree with a lot of what’s been said in terms of the trainee’s role in their own learning, much of the application of learning also depends on the environmen and the supportiveness of senior management.

    A large part of this depends on how the “training” function (or whatever we want to call it) is perceived in the organisation. And the label has an effect – otherwise why the shift from “personnel” to “Human Resources”. According to a variety of academic studies, the content of personnel management and human resources management is not that different, but the HR title is paid more and has more “clout”. Which in turn would suggest that the HR function is likely to have more sway over the elements that directly impact the workplace environment (senior manager and line manager view of training, acceptance of “new” skills and opportunities to use these skills, budget, etc, etc, etc) and the transfer of learning, which is what the function is judged on.

    In addition, trainers are workers too. They need the same sense of identity that any work community require and a title is an important part of this identity.

    So it’s not to do with the gullibility of the trainees, or the scrambled eggs (?) it’s to do with the power of the function and the way this is perceived within the organisation. This is not to say that as trainers, we don’t need to deliver – but we certainly need a flag under which to do it and under which to rally our OWN troops.

  11. To Train Or Not To Train….?
    How about ‘Edu-trainment’

    It’s got to be education, training but with the added dimension of entertainment. I firmly beleive that people who attend learning events want to leave excited and motivated and ready to take on any challenge that presents itself.

    Sadly my experience of the current state of the industry in the UK suggests that there very few ‘Edu-trainers’ around.


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