No training, please … I'm not talented enough!

I recently read a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) report on positioning learning practice for recession and recovery entitled 'Innovative Learning and Talent Development'.

Its raises some interesting issues for Learning Professionals in the current climate but it was its title that particularly intrigued me.  It became even more so when the traditional Learning and Development (L&D) function was referred to as Learning and Talent Development (LTD) throughout.

Does that mean that, as Learning Professionals, we should only consider developing the ‘talented’?  If so, what does ‘talent’ look like in IT?

The Oxford English Dictionary describes talent as ‘a natural aptitude or skill’, so on that basis, if I find IT hard to grapple with at times (and who doesn't?) I clearly don’t posses the natural aptitude for it.  Better stop investing any further in my knowledge or skills then because it is a waste of time.  Combine that with the news last year that it’s not worth training anyone in the North of England I am a completely doomed untalented Northerner and so hereby hand in my notice as an IT Professional!

Do I also need to hand back my CITP and Fellowship of the BCS or can I keep them as recognition of my hard work and commitment to the Profession in spite of my lack of talent?

Comments (4)

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  • 1
    Michelle Kaye wrote on 22nd Sep 2009

    Yes, hand everything you've worked hard for back to the awarding bodies!

    If we just trained or helped those who are talented at IT, a) we wouldn't have a job, b) barely anyone would use a computer - certainly not the large numbers that currently do.

    In fact, Microsoft would be in real trouble - wasn't the point of Windows to make IT easy enough for everyone and anyone to use it?

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  • 2
    Benjamin Cazin wrote on 23rd Sep 2009

    As a member of the CIPD, a Learning professional and also a fairly competent IT practitioner, I'd like to offer my thoughts on two issues:

    1) What's in a name?

    There is always a debate about what to call the process of skill development. Training, Education, Learning, Training and Education, Learning and Development, Training, Education and Development and any other permutation sufficient to win the football pools.

    It is more important to ascertain whether someone can do something after the intervention that they were unable to do before the intervention. An even better question to ask is whether they can apply what they have learnt back in their day-to-day life (often, but not necessarily, at work).

    That is what learning is about in its purest form.


    2) Talent

    Talent development is nothing to do with only developing those identified as already having "talent".

    Firstly, everyone has talents, some obvious and some better hidden or perhaps latent.

    Talent development is about finding and improving the link between an individual's skills and the needs of the organisational needs.

    There will always be cases where a capability study shows that someone is in the wrong role but this evidence should present early on. If someone has limited capability then this is an opportunity to learn to make up the gap.

    Perhaps an alternative is to consider that the OED definition of talent may not be wholly appropriate. Aptitude or skill is correct, but to only consider the "natural" ones makes no allowance for learned skills, plenty of which you must have acquired in order to gain your CITP! Many people have natural talent at computers but an extremely small group of this sample would be able to program a computer with no learnt behaviour!


    I'm happy to continue this discussion...

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  • 3
    Jonathan wrote on 28th Sep 2009

    I have just read the report Julie and I would not worry to much if I were you. Having looked up the author's resume, he has never done a days training in his life - see below.

    God save me from academics.

    It does say he joined CIPD as a Learning, Training and Development Adviser - the rascal has just change the word from training to Talent. I agree with Benny above; what's in a name? I totally disagree with the rest of his comments, sounds like word play again. and as we all know Julie, you are the only one allowed to do that.

    NameJohn McGurk CIPD positionAdviser, Learning and Talent Development SpecialismsCoaching, Public Policy, Apprenticeship, Learning and skills councils, Skills shortages BiographyJohn joined the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in 2007, as Learning, Training and Development Adviser in the Institute's research and policy team. His research interests include coaching and public affairs.

    Before joining the CIPD John was Head of Research and Policy at the British Air Line Pilots Association for eight years. Prior to that he was an academic at Cardiff Business School.

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  • 4
    Robert McCord wrote on 28th Sep 2009

    I recognise this attitude from way back in my University of Edinburgh days. It was obvious then that many people had greater aptitude for IT than others and there was an elitist attitude (the humble COBOL language was much disparaged for example). It wasn't till I got into employment that I found out why. It was actually EASY to program in COBOL as opposed to the "high faultin'" all singing all dancing assembly code with calls to supervisor routines that we were taught or something like LISP and that you could actually achieve things without resorting to recursion and fractals, or writing a new language compiler to achieve the task instead of using the one that was available already! Even then easy was a relative term, in that things could still go disastrously wrong in COBOL and that problems could still be difficult to find!
    My education stood me in good stead but things haven't stood still since the 70s - for example the advent of Microsoft that made computers (at least apparently) accessible to everyone. Even though I have personally spent moderate amounts of money at least, on constantly retraining myself.

    I find that jobs are currently not easy to come by but I find it laughable that hardly one of the training courses that I have done has resulted in me getting a job in that field. While employers constantly bleat on about skill shortages, one constantly sees job adverts that demand X years of experience of XYZ operating system. Having just done a training course in XYZ doesn't seem to count in their eyes. So that takes us back to the premise of this article. Maybe training us "untalented" duffers is a waste of time, we should all just train us all in self selling and networking and never mind the technical stuff!

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About the author
Jooli Atkins (FBCS, CITP) has been involved in the IT profession for the past 25 years, mainly in Learning and Development. She is the Chair of the BCS Learning and Development Specialist Group and CITP assessor as well as being an accredited SFIA consultant, specialising in Business Change.

See all posts by Jooli Atkins

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