Do you have any advice for someone looking to take the first steps in to L & D?

Calling all L & D practitioners!


I am a HR Officer at a not for profit organisation looking for some advice. I have recently completed my CIPD studies and am now thinking about the next career steps to take and am interested in the possibility of entering in to Learning and Development, though perhaps more specifically Training delivery and maybe even eventually some form of coaching.


My current role could most probably be described as a 'generalist', dealing with a varierty of issues such as performance management, visa applications, some elements of policy development, payroll processing, etc. However, alhough I would say my role is best described as generalist, I do not have experience of providing training or working in this segment of the HR function. However I have always looked on it as being a transformational element to HR and one where you can really use interaction and presentation skills on a regularly, as well as being able to collaborate and help individuals with their problem solving on a daily basis. However, as I have mentioned, this is based on someone on the outside looking in - so I stand to be corrected if the reality is quite different!


Taking all of this in to account, I am looking for any advice any one can provide to the following questions:


- What sort of steps did people take when making their first forays in to L & D/Training? For example, were you in similar circumstances to myself in having 4-5 years generalist experience and CIPD, or did they obtain their CTP before moving in to it?


- If it is unlikely that you think I would be able to land a role immediately without this experience, what would you advice in the meantime to build on this? (I should mention we have a small training department where I work and due to the niche nature of the sector my employer is based in opportunities to present training are limited to do this)


- As I mention, I am currently at a not for profit organisation - are there any peers who have made the move to the private sector who might be able to provide some tips for making such a jump between sectors?


- Do your experiences as L & D professionals match my vision of it in terms of the interaction, problem solving etc, or am I just being naive about the day to day realities of it?


Apologies in advance for such a long post - any help is most gratefully received!


All the best,




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Hi Patrick,

A lot to answer here so I will dip in and out of your post over the next few days and provide you with my perspective...

I came into the civilian market from a military background and already had a great deal of experience in 'training' matters; but unfortunately without any 'qualifications' that meant anything to any civilian employers ;-(

So as frustrating as it was, I jumped through all the hoops again to gain my CIPD CTP, ironically my CTP meant not a jot to my current employers, they were more interested in my experience - oh the irony!

Having undertaken the CTP I can honestly that I learnt very little if anything, but I accept that given my previous career path and the level of training I was involved in, I may be an exception?

However, if you are thinking more along the lines of training 'delivery', perhaps you should consider undertaking a Train The Trainer (TTT) programme. Both the ILM and CIEH accredit very good programmes and whilst the purist L&D exponents will quite rightly state that this is another example of plugging formal learning activities and ignoring the informal opportunities, I believe that it would provide you with a solid knowledge base from which to 'cut your teeth' in a training environment.

Perhaps you could undertake a TTT programme and then 'look' for opportunities to practice your newly found skill using your HR generalist knowledge? The Senior HR Adviser in my organisation has done this and has facilitated 'Absence Management', 'Managing Agency Workers' etc type workshops to the Line Managers within my organisation with great success. Perhaps you could look at what initiatives your HR department are working on and suggest your involvement in this via training delivery

From your perspective this would allow you to gain experience and see if you enjoy it, before you make the career leap completely?

I will add some more thoughts over the next few days.

If you would like to visit my organisation and have a chat with me and the colleague I mentioned I would be happy to host you.


Hi Craig

Thanks for taking time out to reply to my (mammoth!) post and provide some excellent advice. You have my sympathies in regard to the problems you have experienced when you started out with employers looking for CIPD over experience and vice versa. I think I speak for most of my college year group when I say this frustrating conundrum is common place!

Your suggestions about TTT programmes are a good way to try keep working on my knowledge if the immediate informal opportunities are not occurring – and if they do in the meantime I suppose as it shows willing. The idea of using any skills learn and applying them for the benefit of my employer also would seem to be a win-win situation all round and one I was kicking myself for not thinking of previously.

I would love to meet yourself and your colleague also. One problem – I know UUK have a London address listed where I am based but are you based in Cheshire substantively?

Either way if this is not possible thanks again for the information and ideas and any others that might spring to mind!

Best wishes,

Hi Patrick,

I initially came into L&D via the Public not for profit sector, working on a regeneration projcect. I fell into the profession quite by accident. I decided I wanted to learn web design and to cut a long story short...the centre that provided me with my training recognised my ability and took me on and trained me up to deilvery standard! I had no formal 'L& D' related qualifications at this stage, although I had my degree. Cut to today 8 years later. I work in my 2nd global corporate and have developed and delivered on a wide variety of systems and applications as well and 'softer' topics. I have some L&D qualifications under my belt from the Institue of IT Trainers, but no CIPD.

I made a conscious leap from public to private sector andcan honestly say, I enjoyed both. I still love my job and am always learning somethin new.

I think your perspective on the L&D profession from the outside looking in is a good description of what a training function can look like. It speaks alot for the organisation that you are in that this is how you view your colleagues and their function. If you like to help people, and enable them to develop, then its a great profession. However, there are alot of changes taking place in L&D due to advances in technology available so it's worth bearing this in mind. As an L&D professional, I have have to update my skillset and continullay have to do this. Where my days used to be spent travelling between locations to deliver training, I know spend much of my time developing (rapid) e-learning and interventions, webinars etc. There is still a classroom element to what I do, when needs must.....but this is less frequent than in the past.

All in all, I think your background in HR and your current CIPD qualification plus your enthusiasm will stand you in good stead.

Hope I have provided a little insight.


Dear Alex

Many thanks for your response to my post. It is really heartening to hear from someone who has made that step across sectors in the way you have. It can be easy sometimes to think it is too much of a jump to make so I really appreciate hearing such an encouraging career path such as you have taken. Also it is really reassuring to think that my perceptions of what the L & D function are matched with your own in terms of enabling and helping people to develop.

The point you make about the e-learning is a really interesting one and something which I had not considered previously, I will be sure to give this some thought. I really like the idea of having to continually develop and stay one step ahead almost in terms of how the training is delivered and produced, so again more food for thought.

If anything else comes to mind that you think might be useful advice/information please feel free to post/drop me a line.

Many thanks again,

Hi Patrick -

One of the most valuable experiences for me was to participate in as many learning and development events, both in-house and external, as I could and observe different facilitators in action. Look for ways in which the facilitator handles participants, including those who are challenging, how they use questioning techniques, what variety of learning activities are included and how pace of the learning can be adapted to suit different participants.

As an HR Generalist, you could offer to deliver some short sessions or workshops on HR related topics such as Back to Work Interviews, recruitment processes, visa applications etc. If you have a learning and development team in your organisation, have a chat with them as most learning and development professionals will be happy to work with you to help prepare the sessions. However, I agree with other respondents that you would benefit from undertaking some sort of Train the Trainer programme before you jump into anything.

You could also investigate the possibility of being mentored by a learning and development professional.

Am more than happy to discuss in further detail either by phone or, you are welcome to visit.

Best wishes

Hi Linda

Thanks for taking time out to reply to my post - have been on the CIPD website looking for any and all branch events I can now attend! That is a great idea about using HR related topics as a means of getting some experience also, hopefully a winner for all parties concerned.

If I may, I will take you up on the offer to get in contact and will send through an email later this week?

All the best,

Hi Patrick

apologies for the late reply, yes please do get in touch if I'm not too late, glad to be of help.

Best wishes

Hello Patrick

Happy to have a conversation as I went from Private to Public and I'm now in working in the NGO sector as an L&D Consultant. Please feel free to contact me at

Kind Regards
Gloria Morgan



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