Celebrating Training Journal’s 50th birthday anniversary

Jo Cook, an Independent L&D specialist at Lightbulb, writes about Training Journal’s 50th anniversary conference and the key themes of the day.


Training Journal celebrated its 50th birthday with a conference looking at the future of work and learning and development brought together different speakers from across industry and the world to share their research, experience and thoughts.

Nigel Paine was the opening keynote speaker in the central London venue in July, focusing on corporate game changers, so that L&D would be around in another 50 years. He emphasised the importance of curation to get through the overwhelming information and that L&D needed to “be evidence based” to avoid “looking like charlatans.” 

The conference split into two sessions, the first with David James from WeCommend and Looop.co. David spoke about doing more with learning as there is so much free content available as well as experts in the organisations. David also focused on being “orchestrators” and that learning departments need to bring skills in from across the business.

The end of the session highlighted that people already are learning in different ways, using technology, social learning, bite-sized content when needed and so on, we don’t need to incentivise people.

Phil Squire, from Consalia, and Carl Day, from Toshiba TEC UK, spoke about revolutionising sales practice. The time started with the acknowledgement that even 150 years ago salespeople were often seen as “peddlers and rogues” and yet the discussion was also that sales was a life skill! Very revealing was Phil sharing his research that there are approximately 410,000 people in HR and 337 learning programmes available.

This contrasted to the 3 million sales people and no qualifications! Phil commented “How can sales become a profession when there are no programmes available?” This was answered by creating a Master’s programme in Sales, which was attended by Carl and colleagues from Toshiba. The remarkable result was that the people who attended this programme has a 76 per cent growth in sales, compared to the 33 per cent of those that didn’t attend the Masters.

Vlatka Hlupic, a Professor of Business and Management at the University of Westminster, delivered a pre-lunch keynote about the themes that are addressed in her published book The Management Shift. She used this framework to talk though how to achieve engaged, interactive, passionate and innovative workforces, whom, according to Vlatka’s experience, also usually increase profits too because “when you focus on people and purpose you will see success in your business.”

Justin Collinge and Haider Imam, co-founders of Tao Leadership led an afternoon session on the future of workplace learning,  concentrating on mindfulness and experiments in enhanced collaboration and collective intelligence. They also highlighted that social is here already with a case study highlighting how many people are using this in an organisation, most from their own device.

The content then moved to wearable technology, including tracker monitors for elements such as voice and stress that can be used to identify talent and high sales performance and allows measurements of cognitive intelligence.

Andy Lancaster, Head of Learning and Development at the CIPD, ran the other session, which generated much discussion. Andy focused on rethinking the future of the workplace learning with an emphasis on 10 vital shifts to be made. Some of these shifts were elements discussed throughout the day, such as curating content, emphasising metrics and science rather than guesswork.

He also shared research revealing that 70 per cent of people learn for their job from web searches, showing that we need performance support in the workflow. The session ended with a video of a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis with a lot of people reflecting on the journey many professionals in L&D need to take.

The closing keynote was from well-known International Consultant, Harold Jarche. Harold commented that he was taking a “50,000 feet view” of the day’s events and the future focusing on humanity, the killer app as he walked us through some models that can be applied to adaptation in organisations and society itself. There was discussion around how electric communication has meant infinite connections and of information availability and about a networked economy being about sharing.

Harold suggested a work shift and that “soft skills will become the hard skills” in a world of automation and that “it is the human skills which will be more valuable.” This led into an observation that discourse, the Socratic method with channels such as Youtube and social learning being so much more relevant to today’s learning than Plato, which is an academy model. The thought-provoking session ended highlighting that to be a high performer, one needed a diverse social network! 

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