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Introducing the new professional body at the heart of learning & development

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This week I attended the annual IITT conference and exhibition at the luxuriously appointed Marriott, Grosvenor Square in London. Despite the best efforts of Bob Crow to derail my attendance (deliberate snipe and pun intended) the event proved to be far and away the most valuable conference I have attended in many a year.

I left with new thinking, new understanding, new tools and a significantly widened network of contacts among thought leaders and leading practitioners in the field of workplace learning, but more than that.... the sense of excitement and change within the IITT was palpable. 

The IITT started out some 15 years ago with a vision to bring professionalism and standards to the IT Training Industry in the UK, beset as it was then by a myriad of cowboy providers and gifted amateurs. There was no way to tell good from bad, or recognise and reward excellence in IT Training.

Skip forward to 2010 and workplace learning has evolved to become an integral driver of organisational transformation and performance. Reflecting the changes in our profession, the stand-up trainer has evolved in the modern Learning Professional, a portfolio knowledge worker equally skilled in project management, consulting, every stage of the learning lifecycle, a leader, an effective communicator, facilitator and much more... 

The IITT has also changed, and everything I read, heard, saw and discussed during the conference has convinced me that IITT are now front and centre of the L&D profession - leading performance through learning. The IITT has grown far beyond its IT centric roots reflecting and representing their diverse membership and the vital role that L&D plays in organisational change. Among the audience I met L&D practitioners in all sectors, from telecoms to healthcare, local government to criminal justice, banking to retail and whilst they were all feeling the effects of the economic downturn, there was a sense of renewal and excitement about the direction that L&D as a profession is headed. The wide range of L&D roles represented at the conference ran from Chief Learning Officer to freelance L&D practitioner. In fact, I did not meet a single person who described themselves as an IT Trainer! No surprise then that the IITT have changed to better reflect their members. What did surprise me was the number of first time attendees at the conference, which a show of hands during the excellent keynote speech by Bob Mosher, suggested at least 1/2 the delegates were at the event for the 1st time.

The role that the IITT have taken in leading the L&D profession reflects what I believe is an equally palpable withdrawal from leading the L&D profession by the CIPD. Indeed I would go so far as to say that CIPD has become what would better be described as 'The Chartered Institute for HR'. In my view, the 'D' in CIPD has become deafeningly silent. The CIPD's own Certificate in L&D practice has been downgraded to a status awarding associate membership of CIPD - hardly a glowing endorsement of the role of L&D as an HR function. Then again, I never believed that describing talented people as 'human resources' was ever going to foster a climate that would develop people to their fullest potential.

I agree with Jay Cross's message to the conference delegates (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URRJv39qJ5A&feature=player_embedded); the IITT needs to change their name to reflect the fact that truly they are now at the heart of driving performance through learning.

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