Corporate L&D: Where do we go from here?

By Janet Benson, Learnovate

While historically L&D departments have sat under the remit of Human Resources, many companies have come to realise that learning expertise cannot be shoehorned into an organisation using traditional HR skills and backgrounds.

While HR professionals require their own set of skills and qualifications, understanding effective learning theory and how adults learn is not necessarily within the remit of HR, and while L&D departments continue to recruit L&D professionals while looking for HR skills and qualifications, L&D continues to lose out.

We’ve all sat through dull PowerPoint presentations and worse, engaged with ‘eLearning’ at work which is often just those dull PowerPoint presentations uploaded onto an LMS. No wonder L&D often gets a bad rap, often being viewed as a non-essential element of a larger corporate entity, or worse, being viewed as an obstacle rather than a support.

Without the skills necessary to conduct structured Learning Needs Analyses, the background knowledge about how learning works, and the expertise required to identify constructive alignment as well as to develop effective learning materials incorporating feedback, assessment and evaluation elements, L&D will continue to struggle under the weight of the HR banner.

So where do we go from here?

Firstly, an awareness that learning & development is separate from HR is a good start, perhaps positioning the L&D department under operations, business support, or a business project team.

Secondly, recruiting L&D professionals with L&D skills and learning qualifications is vital to ensuring an effective learning team who can add real value to the organisation.

Thirdly, cultivating a culture of continuous learning at work can help to promote the value of the L&D team and ensure engagement with other departments in the work towards a common goal. Collaboration is key and involving L&D in decision-making interactions allows the learning team to keep abreast of upcoming changes and to be proactive than reactive, allowing them the time and scope to develop real learning solutions.

While L&D does not necessarily need a seat at every meeting table, it should at least be aware that the meeting is happening.

(Image courtesy of


Janet Benson

Corporate & Adult Learning Lead