No Image Available


Read more from TrainingZone

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Hubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble: A Decade in Training


Happy Birthday TrainingZoneProfessionals of the training fraternity share their thoughts on the training highs and lows of the past 10 years in this special celebration article to mark TrainingZone’s 10th anniversary; by Annie Hayes.

Good L&D doesn’t just happen, it requires good people

Graham O'ConnellGraham O'Connell, head of organisational learning and standards, National School of Government
There have been three significant trends over the last decade focused around alignment, devolvement and design. Increasingly learning and development (L&D) has become aligned to organisations’ business priorities. 10 years ago training was mostly focused on meeting legal or operational requirements. These things are still important, but now there is an additional aspiration: for L&D to be part of the strategic debate and to make a visible contribution to organisational change and performance. I say visible as relying on evaluation to prove your worth has not got any easier over the years.

Devolvement of responsibility to line managers and individuals has made a dramatic change to how and where learning happens. Coaching, learning at your desk (especially through e-learning) and team development have all grown significantly. So has the demand from managers for tailored training, shorter events and the learning coming to the person not the other way around. But we are still struggling with managers who are not ‘intelligent buyers’, who are not natural coaches or who don’t know how to help translate learning into improved performance.

As to design, there have been some big changes here too, but the picture is patchy. The more progressive organisations have latched onto blended learning, modular programmes and a less formal, learner-centred approach. Learning methods used to be either creative and engaging or very focused and business-like. Now our customers expect them to be both, and with minimum time away from the workplace.

One thing that hasn’t changed though; good L&D doesn’t just happen, it requires good people.

The trainer is no longer the centre of the universe in which the learner planets revolve

Martyn SlomanMartyn Sloman, adviser: learning, training and development research and policy, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development
There have been two big things in my mind that stand out over the last 10 years the first is the absence of a big idea. It hasn’t emerged in learning and development.

However, there have been two key trends the first is a shift from training to learning in organisations in focus – the skills of trainers has shifted over those years. It has been gradual rather than ‘seismic’. The second big issue is the further advance of technology which in my mind has always been grossly overstated – the contribution of e-learning has actually been very gradual.

There is a third element too, there has been a general shift in skills in the organisation in which the trainer is no longer the centre of the universe in which the learner planets revolve.

The last 10 years has been a period of experimentation

Jo CausonJo Causon, director of marketing and corporate affairs for the Chartered Management Institute
Over the past 10 years, there has been an increased range of options with organisations realising the benefits of developing employees through multiple routes. This recognition is demonstrated by the uptake of alternate learning methods such as online resources and informal learning in conjunction with more traditional training programmes.

The growing importance of blended learning is reiterated in research by the Chartered Management Institute which found that a combination of learning methods, including on-the-job experience, in-house management development and qualifications, provided the most effective development in today’s working environment. Over the past decade, organisation’s understanding of the complimentary value of different training methods, as well as the importance of linking them to their strategic goals, has become more prevalent.

In a world where change is the only constant, continuous professional development has also become more of a focus. Employers appreciate that they must constantly assess the skills they need to be successful, and provide an environment where staff have the opportunity to develop on an ongoing basis. Tools such as e-learning have made providing real-time training and development easier to implement but organisations still have some way to go. If the last 10ears has been about experimentation, and seeing the benefits of new ways of learning, the future must focus on implementing these development methods to drive individual performance and help people achieve their potential.

Competencies take centre stage

Buffy SparksBuffy Sparks, head of coaching, T&D & certified life coach
One of the biggest trends I have seen happening in business over the last 10 years has been the successful and sometimes not so successful, introduction of competencies into the workplace. Competencies, as we know, are ways for a business to positively performance manage employees against business objectives, develop behaviours and skills, introduce personal development plans, develop and advocate succession planning and on-going learning and development events/workshops, to name but a few of the positive outcomes competencies can bring to a business.

One thing that continues to hamper the success of a competency programme is buy-in from the management team. New management tools require the support of and commitment from all those who will use the tool to manage others or be managed using it. As L&D specialists, we must continue to enable and empower managers and consider introducing a competency-based approach to influence other managers they work with and fellow colleagues/subordinates in a positive way, by exploring the reasons for introducing competencies and identifying actions to take, not just simply rolling out competency based frameworks, job descriptions and workshops. This can be achieved through coaching managers to truly own the competency programme.

It has been, and will continue to be a long-standing quest for trainers, coaches and learning and development specialists to not only evoke excitement, positivity and value in competency frameworks, but just as importantly, to evoke support, commitment and drive from the management team who ultimately have responsibility for making the process a success.

‘Sheep dip’ training bows out

Mike DitchburnMike Ditchburn, managing director, e-learning division, REDTRAY Ltd
In some respects, nothing fundamental has changed. Organisations that focus on individual needs rather than ‘sheep dip’ training have always had a better chance of improving performance through training, and this has been the case over the last 10 years.

Training trends have mirrored employment trends. Today we have a landscape of workforce diversity, the demand for work-life balance, technology advancing almost daily and a propensity for remote working. The training portfolio (driven by technology) now includes online, mobile and virtual – for what are often global requirements. Today, the corporate trainer combines these with the more traditional approaches of classroom training and coaching (which, despite the hype, are set to stay with us).

Trainers have moved away from the traditional delivery role towards the role of business consultant – facilitators rather than doers who have a greater intrinsic value to organisations. ‘Just in time and just enough’ have become the buzzwords for solutions which need to be delivered where and when learners need them.

Measurement has continued to be critical and there is certainly a greater focus on the ‘bottom line’. However, whilst there have been developments in systems to capture training results, it is hard to see where the advances have come in the qualitative aspects of evaluation. Perhaps this will be a focus in the next 10 years?


Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!