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Which are the best membership organisations in 2010 and why?


There have been articles on Training Zone and discussions on Any Answers in the past (mainly around 5 years ago) comparing membership organisations such as CIPD and ITOL. In June, CIPD is changing its membership structure so it seems a good time to revisit these discussions, as I doubt I am the only CIPD member thinking of leaving and looking for an alternative.

I qualified as a Licentiate member of CIPD after completing the Diploma in Training and Development. As a learning and development professional with 20 years experience, I don't feel additional CIPD HR qualifications are sufficiently relevant to my work to justify the investment of time and money. I've now received a letter stating CIPD are "pleased to announce" that my Licentiate membership will be automatically transferred to Associate membership. Associate membership is described as a level for support staff and for those setting out on a HR career, neither of which I feel apply to me. I considered Chartered Membership, but this is specifically for those in a HR role (rather than L&D). There doesn't seem to be any recognition for the Diploma or for learning and development specialists within the new membership structure.

How do others, especially those who have the Diploma in Training and Development, feel about this - do you see yourselves as support staff for HR and hence feel the Associate Membership level is appropriate and continued membership of CIPD is valuable? or do you feel the changes to membership levels mean that CIPD membership is no longer relevant to you? and if so, what do you feel is the current best alternative?

Barbara Hepworth-Jones

6 Responses

  1. Same boat Barbara

    I am in exactly the same position as you Barbara, having decided that Licentiate was suitable for the level of membership that I wanted from the HR Institute – being an L&D Specialist.


    I got the same letter and have it on my desk at the moment, considering my options.  I must confess that my gut reaction is to leave the organisation and concentrate on those that really reflect what I do, but I am struggling to find one with the Professional status.


    I will be very interested to hear what others think about this situation.


    Jooli Atkins

  2. which professional body? – what do you want/ need from it?

    This is an interesting one… it depends what you want:

    the CIPD has a name in the market place – a library second to none, researcher that will do work for you, an excellent access for members to journals, reasonable branch events…

    ITOL – seem to be going back-wards – doing little to promote themselves, no national framework qualifications.. no branches, limited lib, free access to "alchemy", ?journal (is this still published?) – not widely recognised by organisations

    IITT – specific to the IT world, journal, national framework based qualification/ accreditation – not know of outside the IT world

    BILD – "new kid on the block" historically linked to TAP & training foundation, limited publications, limited resources, no branch network, but great free regional conferences/ events on a regular basis – starting to be known in the market space, been to all the major HR/ HRD exhibitions in the last couple of years.

    CMI – great branch structure, similar members support and journals to CIPD (along with the research facility), framework based qualifications – but for many in L&D the same barriers as the CIPD – but an operational based focus.

    LPA/ Trainerbase – not a professional institute – but a trade association – they now have a national framework qualification and their own quality standard CLP (Certified Learning Practitioner)


    Now the sting in the tail – I’m not convinced there will be a training industry (at least not as we know it) left after this economic climate.

    In the US they have Instructional Designers and then subject matter experts/presenters – i.e. not the "I can do everything" approach of the UK – and our approach is not sustainable at least not as a career, OK as a part of a career path. So is there any point in a professional body? – I am not sure anymore. As developers we need to nail our ‘cloth’ to one mast – HR or another – operations, we do not and cannot stand in isolation.

    Any professional body is only as good as what we as members use it for. Have a look on LinkedIn and you will see many more active groups for HR in the UK with bigger memberships than training/L&D – this must say something… I also know that TZ has a bigger readership then HRZone – but it looks like HRzone is more commercially successful.. make of that what you will.

    If you are a member of ANY professional body set up a SIG (special interest group) in your area and make it work.

    For what it is worth I have a DTM and am a Fellow of BILD & the CIPD, I was a member of the CMI, but at the time decided to ‘weed’ my memberships.

    Mike – the blog space for those involved in L&D

  3. Which are the best membership organisations in 2010 and why?

    Like Mike –  I have worked closely with CIPD promoting the L&D stream, and CPD in particular.

    Since setting up my own business (a few years ago now) the main thing I missed was interaction with like minded ‘trainers’. So I joined AMED ( – which is a membership organisation that does not mess about with ‘Qualifications’ – but is more about helping each other and being there to bounce ideas etc. They have an E-Journal, and lots of benefits, PLUS a website built around social networking (based on NING). You can join the website as a networker, or for the full benefits as a member.

    So to answer the question – CIPD still give me ‘Professional qualification status’ (and I enjoy working with the broad church of HR people), but AMED is the place where I can be a trainer/ people developer etc and know that my colleagues know what I’m talking about.



  4. CIPD for L & D

    Hi there,

      Allow me to try and reassure – or even, I hope, enthuse the l&d community about the changes we’re making to membership.  These are big changes, and we’ve been working hard on them for the past 18 months.  We’ve drawn on extensive research and consultation with and beyond the whole HRM/D profession.

    One of the big driving forces behind what we are doing has been to ensure we are better placed to serve all professionals – generalist or specialist.  When thinking about the need to serve specialists better, l&d and OD have been two of the biggest sections of the profession that we have had in mind.
    So the new Associate grade forms only one part of a bigger picture – much of it built on the new CIPD HR Profession Map (  The Map provides new progression routes specifically for l&d professionals.  Another important part is the changes we’ve made to the criteria for the Chartered Member and Chartered Fellow grades.  The important message here, for both Barbara and Jooli, and for many other readers too I suspect, is that if you thought before that as an l&d professional you couldn’t access the Chartered grades, it may be a good time to think again.  If you think the criteria for Associate don’t do justice to the contribution you’re making in your working lives, please do take a look at the criteria for the Chartered grades (  And feel free to email me directly on [email protected] if you’d like to set up a chat to discuss your own situation.  I’ve had a number of similar conversations in the last week, and most people I’ve spoken to have gone away more than happy.
    But it’s also important to say that the Associate grade is an important and valuable development in its own right.  We’ve set it up to provide greater recognition for the substantial contribution many thousands of professionals are making before they have reached the Chartered grade.  This is for people making a real difference to organisations.  One of the reasons we’ve acted is that the existing Graduate and Licentiate grades are little understood.  We’ll be working hard, and consistently to establish the new Associate grade as a meaningful, credible and respected badge of competence amongst employers – and that is true whether you hold it as a generalist or as an l&d or OD specialist.
    I hope that goes some way to explaining our thinking and allaying concerns.  Please do get in touch if you’d like to discuss your own situation.  This really is intended to be good news for l&d professionals.
    Melanie Bellis
    Head of Customer Service, CIPD
  5. L&D Professionals – CIPD or not CIPD

    Like Barbara I am an L&D professional with well over 20 years experience.  I originally "qualified" through an excellent in-house train the trainer programme (lasting a total of 12 months and including 6 major workshops) and then by gaining my Certificate in Training and Development from the Institute of Training and Development which joined with the Institute of Personnel Management to become IPD and then CIPD.  I’ve maintained full membership of ITD, IPD and CIPD ever since and agree with the comments from Mike about the excellent resources provided.

    I’ve often mourned the passing of ITD and have regularly bemoaned the fact that through the joining of the two institutes, L&D seemed to have to lose out.  I too joined AMED for a time but found that most of the events/meetings were in London and as a Yorkshire Lass found this beyond my purse to keep up with.  Though from Mike’s comments it seems that they may have become more accessible with incresasing technology.

    At my time of career, I’m not looking to gain any more qualifications as I use my experience to gain roles.  I am active in my CIPD branch to network with like-minded people, from both HR and L&D disciplines.  I’ve recently become a committee member of my local branch and am working on the events team so that I can ensure that L&D gets a "fair crack of the whip" when it comes to arranging speakers and events.

    I’d say that CIPD is the most professionally recognised body in the HR/L&D field and suggest that if anyone wants to influence the part L&D plays in the Institute, get involved and influence from within.

  6. One to look at the IfL

    Do consider the Institute for Learning it was set up as a professional body for teachers and trainers in the lifelong learning sector.

    The fees are reasonable; £30 is what I pay as a member. 

    They will consider your membership level by mapping across almost any training qualification.

    PS I work as a trainer in industry not the FE sector but still feel this is the right association for me.


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