Training professionals: their profile, career & viewpoints.

AuthorSrimannarayana, M.
PositionReport - Abstract


Training function in corporate organizations underwent radical changes from offering apprenticeship training to contributing to business success. While more corporate senior teams recognize the bottom-line business impact of training, the identity of training is getting somewhat bifurcated by blurred roles, responsibilities and titles. Today, the training professional is often called a learning and development professional, or performance consultant, among many other titles (Oakes, 2014). The role of training profession involves working in partnership with managers to solve performance problems in a range of new ways, as well as enable and support the continuous performance improvement (Hart, 2014). There is evidence indicating that organizations that invest more in training, will show better financial results in terms of higher net sales per employee and gross profits per employee (Bassi & McMurrer, 2007). Training professionals who are responsible for this function need to have professional background and competencies to meet the changing expectations of industry. The present study makes an attempt to examine the profile of training professionals in India in terms of their background, career and their viewpoint on emerging trends in training and development. This paper reviews briefly the training function in India based on the existing literature. This is followed by the details of the present study and its findings.

Training Function in India

Training as a formal corporate activity started in India when Apprentice Act, 1961 came into operation. Simultaneously, employee and managerial training was taking place to enhance the knowledge and skills of employees by nominating them to various internal and external programs. But training was not given due importance in many organizations (Srinivasan, 1980). Lack of seriousness on the part of trainees, lack of discussion with superiors on different expectations from training are major problems that created negative perception about training in India (Srinivasam & Virmani, 1977). A gap is identified between the managerial training needs of the organizations as perceived by the training institutions and as it exists in reality (Virmani & Seth, 1985). It is observed that one-third of the organizations established separate training departments manned by professionally trained managers. However, in two-thirds of the organizations, training professionals did not possess professional qualification for training functions. Most organizations assessed training needs through appraisal reports. More than two-thirds organizations had formal induction training for new hires, organized in-company training programs, and sponsored many more managers than supervisors and workers to external training programs (Saiyadain, 1987). But training of workers in public sector enterprises was given a low priority (Sodhi & Kohli, 1987). Gradually many organizations have started training and development activities with generous allocation of budgets. Provision for adequate facilities for general education and technical training has been identified as one of the dimensions of organizational climate in India (Sharma, 1987). However, the extent of management training in India is low and there are structural differences between organizations that provide training to their managers and those that do not. This depended on the level of a manager, the size of the organization, and the ownership structure of the organization. A vast majority of managers, particularly at junior level, working in small and owner-managed organizations, are likely to miss out on training opportunities and the resulting benefit (Sharma, 1992).

But recent studies showed a change of direction for training function in India. Training has come out of its dormant stage to the boardroom discussions (Lynton and Pareek, 2000). It has evolved and matured to a substantial degree (Rao, Rao & Yadav, 2001). Training professionals are helping the top management in generating quality awareness among employees (Palo & Padhi, 2005). Indian MNCs/global firms are focusing on organizational learning, which largely gets reflected through training activities and has a positive correlation with organizational performance (Khandekar & Sharma, 2006). It is found that linking training to strategic direction of the organization, systematic evaluation processes that measure the success of training, application of technology in training, systematic needs assessment and partnership of line and training professionals in training, are the top five training trends in India (Srimannarayana, 2006). Training function is predominately structured as an integral part of human resource department though some organizations have separate training departments with one training staff member for every 250 employees. The popular methods of needs assessment are performance appraisal and business goals of the organizations. However, training needs assessment, to some extent, and nominations for training programs, to a large extent, are taking place in a casual manner. Subsequently, organizations could not assess the effectiveness of training programs (Srimannarayana, 2010). Traditional measures such as feedback of the participants on the training programs, number of employees trained, training costs, and number of training days are the more popular measures of training than the impact measures such as transfer of training, performance improvements, and cost and benefit analysis (Srimannarayana, 2011). Indian origin organizations fall short in terms of importance given and performance of training function compared to multinational companies. Further, it is found that service companies have an edge over manufacturing companies in terms of importance and performance of training (Sharma, 2014). The service sector is better in creating a perception of positive training transfer climate than manufacturing and IT sectors (Srimannarayana, 2016).

The Present Study

The aim of the present study is to analyse the professional profile of training professionals and to describe their viewpoint on emerging trends in training and development. A questionnaire was created to collect the information. This was divided into two parts. Part one consisted of questions relating to the profile of training professionals, and their perception on their career related aspects. The scale created by Greenhaus, Parasuraman and Wormley (1990) was used to assess career satisfaction of the training professionals. The confidence level of training professionals was assessed using the Talent Development Executive Confidence Index (TDXCI), created by Association of Talent Development (ATD). Part two consisted of questions pertaining to emerging trends in training and development replicating from the study of ATD on global trends in talent development (2015). The questionnaire was administered among the training professionals with a minimum of two years of experience in the training profession. 185 usable filled in questionnaires were considered for the analysis. The data was analysed qualitatively and quantitatively, using methods such as frequency distribution, percentages and mean scores.

Nearly half of the respondents belonged to the service sector, covering architecture, audit and accounting firms, banking, business services, consultancy firms, e-commerce companies, educational institutes, financial services, healthcare, hospitality, infrastructure, insurance, logistics and supply chain companies, media, outsourcing HR and training, real estate, retail, telecommunications, and travel businesses (Table 1). 30.81% of the sampled training professionals worked in manufacturing sector representing automobile, cement, construction, consumer goods, electronics, electrical, medical device manufacturing, oil and gas, pharmaceutical, steel, and textile companies. The remaining 20.54% worked for IT and IT-enabled services. Ownership-wise, an overwhelming majority (89.73%) of the respondent training professionals worked for privately owned companies. Only 6.49% of the...

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