Who wants to be a trainer? (Is L&D the HR Sweet Spot)


I was chatting to some friends over the weekend and some interesting comments came up that seemed to circulate around another conversation I had been involved in about the transience of trainers and how it seemed hard to keep them.  So I thought I would look at the questions that came up, offer my perspective and then see if we can’t see why in the long run transience might be an issue.

The first question was ‘How did you get into L&D’ – My answer was simple, I want to make a real difference in people’s lives, I want to help them to grow, become more skillful , build their capacity and capabilities.   I was good at presenting and training people how to do and understand things and what some times seems a very long time ago I fell into sales training when a friend needed some help with his sales staff.  So in reality I didn’t initially choose to be in L&D, I was in the right place at the right time and I was good at over, but it fitted, it fitted with my idea of wanting to make a difference.

The next question caught me a bit off guard, it was ‘So where do you go from where you are?’  This one was a bit harder I guess for a number of reasons.  First and foremost, I like my current role and I work for a very large organisation, in a very senior role, where I am given an enormous amount of autonomy and responsiblity, in fact probably more than most HR director’s in a lot of organisations. (I am incredibly lucky and very thankful for the opportunity by the way).  But it points to a conversation I had with an L&D friend around this time last year where he said that  he had to move from the organisation he was in because his only career progression within it was to take on a senior generalist HR position and he hated the idea of doing that.  Another friend and colleague of mine who moved from a senior L&D role to a senior HR Director role, clearly articulated that L&D was his preference, but if he want to advance his career he had to make the move back into HR.  So is that what we are destined for if we truly want to advance our careers past where we are?

The rise, particularly in the US of the Chief Learning Officer, I think provides some light at the end of the tunnel around this as well, but probably only bigger organisations will ever really embrace the idea.  It is a role that I think is incredibly important and one that is long over due in terms of giving Learning its own place at the Big Table.

So is L&D the HR sweet spot, but is it a HR sweet spot that we almost by necessity have to leave in order to advance our careers.


About pauldrasmussen
Paul Rasmussen is one of Australia’s most widely read Vocational Education and Training Commentators. He provides deep, unbiased analysis and insights not only on topical issues, but also on the underlying structure and policy which supports the industry. His writing and analysis has been praised for its uncompromising and thought provoking style and its ability to focus on the issues of real importance to the sector. He has advised various government departments and ministers, training providers, public and private organisations, not for profits and small to medium enterprises on the VET sector and the issues and opportunities facing it. He is one of Australia’s most awarded learning professionals and a regular speaker at a range of conventions and forums. His extensive experience in vocational education, and learning and development coupled with formal qualifications in philosophy, ethics, business and education management allow Paul to provide a unique view of the road ahead and how to navigate it.

4 Responses to Who wants to be a trainer? (Is L&D the HR Sweet Spot)

  1. Christina Bayma says:

    Very interesting question you have posed. I am actually a technical trainer who also provides functional support for software. I too have the question of where do I go from here? I’m not in a senior role and I’m not in HR, so as a specialized trainer, who is not in the OD arena, in a large organization where do I steer my career?

    • pauldrasmussen says:


      It is a very interesting question and a dilemma for a lot of people in the training arena, particularly in the technical area. I think there are two real probelms with the technical training area which can make it really difficult to see where your career might be heading. One is that there almost always seems to be new things that you need to learn to keep ahead of the technology curve, the other is the pigeon holing effect, where people are seen as simply technical trainers. Frank Anderson makes some interesting points in this little video “Want to be a CLO“. the thing that I think is most important if you are looking to stay in L&D and move up in the organisation or in another organisation is being able to collaborate, particularly around strategy and big picture items, delivery etc. It is that strategic skill coupled with an ability to engage stakeholders and get outcomes that is really important. How do you get that when you are not in a particularly senior, or specialist role, it can be challenging, but throw you hat in the ring for thing, look for opportunities and if you get in over your head dont be afraid to ask for assistance.

  2. Anita says:


    I am into a customer service role but want to become a L&D trainer, The company with which I work has limited opportunities and hence there is a very slim chance to grow,
    I am been looking for new roles within L&D but not getting the response.

    do you know from where to start if I want to move to the above mentioned postion ?

  3. Pingback: I dont want to be a trainer all my life! | Organisational Learning and Development

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