Building capability

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Written by Tim Baker on 19 February 2014

Learning professionals in the UK may be interested in the principles supporting learning and development in the public sector in Australia. The framework for managing L&D in the Australian Public Service (APS) is illustrated below:

Building capability: A framework for managing learning and development in the Australian Public Service 

As you can see from the framework, there are seven principles that support learning initiatives. I think these seven principles should be embraced by anyone associated wih learning. They provides us all with useful guideposts.

Let's take a look at each principle. 

1. Align learning with the business

Any learning initiative should be articulated in the context of assisting the organisation directly or indirectly achieve its strategic direction.  Indirect links may take the form of personal development initiatives or problem-based learning. 

2. Integrate learning with HR and other business processes

There is a debate in our profession about whether learning and development should be a separate function or part of HR. Irrespective of the merits of these arguments, any learning should be integrated seamlessly with other functions such as induction, recruitment, performance and so on. 

3. Create a learning culture

The best indicator of whether an organisation has a learning culture is to look at what happens between formal learning interventions such as a training programme. The extent to which participants are given application tools and are prepared to apply what they learnt is a sign of a healthy learning culture. 

4. Provide appropriate learning options

Variety is the spice of live, and learning is no different. Programmes should use a variety of learning activities and experiences to cater for the diverse preferences of the way people learn.

5. Manage learning effectively

As most of us know, infinitely more learning takes place 'on the shop floor' than the training room. These informal learning moments include: A comment here; watching someone doing something over there; reading; and myriad other ways. We need to pay as much attention to what's happening beyond the four walls of the training room as we do within it. 

6. Support application of skills in the workplace

One of the most underestimated impediments to achievement in the workplace is organisational support. Superior learning and development support structures include such things as group and individual coaching, mentoring, and follow-ups small group sessions.

7. Evaluate learning and development

What we need to evaluate above all is application and return on investment as Kirkpatrick points out in his evaluation model. This is an area I think that trainers need to devote more time and resources to. 

The framework for managing learning and development in the APS provides a useful checklist of the criteria necessary for any learning and development initiative. 

About the author
Dr Tim Baker is an international consultant and managing director of WINNERS AT WORK. He can be contacted via

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