Engaging with the L&D community

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Written by Seun Robert-Edomi on 5 August 2014 in Interviews

Keeping up with business is of vital importance for L&D, CIPD says

As the workplace continues to evolve at a rapid pace, sharing best practice has never been more important.

Learning professionals are now able to communicate and engage with each other through various mediums. This bring numerous opportunities and is a great way of showcasing the work that L&D is doing, according to the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development.

Speaking to TJ, Andy Lancaster, head of learning and development at the CIPD, stresses the importance of establishing and enhancing ways of engaging the L&D community.

“One of the key things that we’ve done in recent times is to introduce the Leaders in Learning Network Group. This was started just over a year ago to reach both CIPD members and non-members,” he says.

“This group looks at those who are leading learning functions in FTSE250 and equivalent companies, and comparable leaders in the public and not-for-profit sectors. The purpose is to share best practice, create effective networking and look at the current trends in L&D. We’ve now done our third one and we have about 700 people live on our list, with around 80 people coming to each event.

“We are now allowing the group to deliver the evening and after the success of our initial London events we’re now organising new ones regionally. Now we’ve seen that the model works, we want to take it all around the UK. We’ve started a Leaders in Learning blog on the website – it’s to give a voice to learning leaders outside of CIPD. The majority of those blogs are put up by non-CIPD staff.”

Last year, the CIPD’s chief executive, Peter Cheese, told TJ about the charity’s plan to work more closely with L&D. It’s something which Lancaster backs and says work is already going on behind the scenes to make this a reality.

“We’ve looked at where we can form some collaborative learning partnerships – and, an important one for us is with Laura Overton at benchmarking company, Towards Maturity.

“For us it’s important to position ourselves alongside strategic partners to support the L&D community. We believe that evidence-based research is the best way to enhance the profession. Towards Maturity has a real wealth of data so we’ll be collaborating with them to look at how L&D is changing and the expectations of the L&D department.

“Collaboration is one of our key values at the CIPD – and everyone from the chief executive down is focused on this. He has set the agenda from the top and collaborative working is high up on that list. It’s about looking where there can be effective cooperative working and you’ll now see CIPD looking to undertake more projects like the one with Towards Maturity.”

With the pace of change in business, L&D has to position itself accordingly. The change also means L&D qualifications have to be adapted and updated – work is already happening in this area, Lancaster confirms.

“If you look in most areas of business, the last five years have seen areas of massive change. L&D has not been immune from the rapid pace of change. Things like neuroscience and digital delivery affect us too. We’ve now got to move with this ever-changing pace and that requires new qualifications. We need to support learning professionals in this change. There’s a bit of a gap between what’s coming out in theory and what’s happening in organisations.

“Here at CIPD, we’ve moved things forward significantly. We are just starting a re-write of the Level 3 and 5 L&D qualifications – it’s an important step for us. Any qualification needs reviewing and updating to reflect modern L&D practice. We’re engaging with thought leaders to help shape the new units. This will be released in January 2015 and I think L&D professionals will be very pleased to see the focus on this area.

“The idea is that there’ll be units on social collaborative learning and digital learning design. It’s a brand new product and this is very important. It’s all about looking at how we provide up-to-date professional development.”

Ruth Stuart, research adviser at the CIPD, was keen to talk about the increased links between business awareness and business performance.

“L&D departments need to re-think the way they design and deliver their learning. We have to think far more radically about how we engage learners. Developing communities of learning is of vital importance – and learning departments need to think deeply about this.

“Research from people like Jane Hart into how people are learning shows that the learner has more control in how they access their learning. The L&D professional is now moving from creating to curating. Enabling people to learn where they want and when they want is a key shift for us all.

“We’re starting to see a shift in methods of learning and development delivery. In terms of understanding the impact, measuring is still very important. My experience is if you don’t align well to the business at the beginning, it’s much more difficult to measure. The design of evaluation is left too late and should be embedded in the beginning,” she concluded.


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