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Trainer Development: An Institute’s view – Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development


Jessica Rolph, Adviser, Learning, Training and Development, CIPDAs part of our trainer development feature, we've asked representatives from the three major institutes involved in developing those in the HRD field to answer some key questions about the services they offer, the support available to training professionals and some of the issues affecting them in the workplace today. Here, Jessica Rolph, Adviser, Learning, Training and Development, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development gives her response.

TrainingZONE: How do you support trainers accredited through your institution?

Jessica Rolph: The CIPD provide members with a whole host of services to support them in their ongoing career development. This includes up-to-date information on leading-edge thinking and practice such as surveys, research and reports (, the fortnightly People Management magazine and a daily online news service which summaries all the people management and development news from the national newspapers. There is a wide range of courses to help trainers to develop their skills and knowledge, as well as a service to deliver and design in-house training programmes to help ensure that the skills and knowledge within your team and organisation remain current. CIPD also appreciates that networking matters to our members. We therefore also provide a variety of opportunities for members to meet and network with other training practitioners. These include the 48 local CIPD branches across the UK, conferences and exhibitions and forums. These are just some of the member benefits CIPD provides and we hope that these are a valuable asset in our members’ professional lives.

TrainingZONE: The training market is constantly changing - how do you keep your programmes for trainers relevant?

Jessica Rolph: The CIPD offers a comprehensive range of training courses and CIPD certificate programmes for trainers on different topics. These are refreshed annually following evaluation of courses throughout the year, dedicated customer research and monitoring of courses offered by competitor organisations. Tutors on the courses are regularly briefed to ensure they are also fully up-to-date on developments in training thinking and practice. The CIPD’s professional qualifications are also regularly reviewed by a quality management team.

TrainingZONE: How does the Institute keep up-to-date with current training theory and practice?

Jessica Rolph: The CIPD’s professional knowledge and information department explores leading edge people management and development issues by undertaking and commissioning research on key HR/training issues. We produce research reports, summaries, guides and practical tools for members from these research activities to increase learning and understanding. We also produce annual survey reports which give a year-on-year analysis of key areas, such as training and development. Topical surveys are also produced to give a snapshot of opinion on issues of current concern.

CIPD members are frequently involved in research and surveys and gaining their views and opinions about changing training practices is a very useful way of making sure our research and information is on topics that are useful to them. We also have panels of practitioners who advise us on ‘hot topics’ or areas in which information/research would be welcomed.

TrainingZONE: Do you provide support to in-house training departments to help identify and provide training for their trainers?

Jessica Rolph: The CIPD can deliver training programmes within organisations to help practitioners ensure that the skills and knowledge within their team remain current. Programmes can be:

  • Standard courses from our CIPD Training Directory, delivered in-house. Content and format will be based on the directory programme with few adaptations
  • Tailored directory programmes, where we adapt course length, content and emphasis to suit particular requirements
  • Customised and bespoke training programmes where an account manager and trainer work with you to assess your business needs and aims – and how to achieve them. This may include a mix of learning methods such as classroom training, pre-workshop reading, modular workshops, online tools and resources, case studies, learning sets or ongoing tutor support.
  • The CIPD also offers other support to in-house training departments through the information services it offers. The CIPD library ( has the largest collection of learning, training and development materials in Europe including trainer resource materials. The CIPD also publishes training resource toolkits which organisations can use – for example, The Complete Learning Evaluation Toolkit.

    This comprehensive range of services hopefully ensures that, no matter where you as a learning and development specialist, the CIPD can help you develop your skills further.

    TrainingZONE: What practical advice would you offer trainers who are having difficulties finding time to devote to their own CPD?

    Jessica Rolph: Continuing professional development is essential for enhancing your CV, updating your skills and accelerating your career prospects, but it is still one more thing to fit in with people’s already hectic lifestyles. Take time to think about these questions:

  • What have been your main career achievements over the past five years?
  • What are the most important lessons you have learnt?
  • What are your career goals for the next few years?
  • What areas do I need to improve my skills and abilities in? Prioritise these.
  • What kinds of development activities would work best?
  • How can I fit these in with my work and family commitments over the next 6 months?
  • Keeping a record of the action and activities you have undertaken and plan to undertake is very helpful – this will help you keep track of your objectives and is something you can regularly review and update. This record will also demonstrate all the learning and development opportunities that you have undertaken and can be useful in supporting and advancing your career.

    TrainingZONE: Do you provide opportunities for members to meet up and share experiences?

    Jessica Rolph: The CIPD has 48 branches across the UK who arrange regular local meetings, events and activities for members. Some branches additionally have special-interest groups on subjects such as training and development where members can get together to discuss particular areas of interest. In addition to events arranged through the CIPD branch network, CIPD provides a number of other ways members can network and share experiences. These include conferences such as HRD and the CIPD annual conference at Harrogate, forum events and seminars/events based on CIPD research. Details of all of these can be found on the CIPD website.

    TrainingZONE: Most trainers identify their own preferred methods of delivery and theories they subscribe to - for example, a trainer might chose to become an NLP practitioner or e-learning tutor. Is it difficult to create programmes which are relevant to all?

    Jessica Rolph: Search our Training Directory and you’ll find more than 160 courses. There are therefore many different types of programmes to cover various preferences in terms of theoretical base or delivery style. For example, there is a course on ‘e-learning for trainers’ and a course on ‘NLP for trainers’ to follow on from your example. We therefore hope that by providing a wide range of courses, there is something there to appeal to a large proportion of our trainer members.

    TrainingZONE: Does the Institute's work involve liaison with government bodies such as the Employment NTO, Learning and Skills Council and the Learning and Skills Development Agency?

    Jessica Rolph: Yes, the Institute liaises with these bodies and others on a regular basis. The involvement varies in its nature and extent, but examples include work on the National Occupational Standards, collaborative publications and joint events. We also represent member views in Government consultations and use our research to provide input into policy and legislation. More information about the CIPD’s public policy work can be found on the CIPD website.

    TrainingZONE: The government White Paper on skills published this month doesn't seem to address the need to develop trainers at all - do you think UK trainers as a whole are sufficiently skilled for the work they do, or does the much-vaunted 'skills gap' also apply to those involved in training others?

    Jessica Rolph: While the Government's White Paper doesn't directly mention the need to develop trainers, the Skills for Business network is being placed at the heart of proposals in the White Paper, and will have an important role to play in mapping skill shortages. We are working with the SSDA to determine how the skill needs of trainers themselves should be assessed and articulated. We will be submitting a formal response to Government in October, and will draw on our expertise in areas such as CPD and lifelong learning when compiling this. For further information please see the public policy area of the CIPD website.

    TrainingZONE: What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the trainer today?

    Jessica Rolph: Interestingly, this is a question we have recently gained member’ views on - both through our website and through a poll at the HRD 2003 conference. The top 3 challenges that members identified with were ‘enabling employees and managers to make time for learning’, ‘working with line managers to transfer learning back to the workplace’ and ‘demonstrating the bottom line impact of training’. Of these I suppose ‘making time for learning’ is probably the key challenge for trainers at the moment, given increasing business pressures and a tough economic climate. Making sure training is given the due attention and resources it needs is something trainers need to continually campaign for.


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