Ontario's training and development association wants to go national.
The Ontario Society for Training and Development, the largest association in Canada dedicated to training and workplace learning with 1,700 members, is surveying members about the possibility of the society reinventing itself as a national organization.
In the survey, which was given to members at the annual conference last month and is available online (www.ostd.ca), the society explained, “We want to know what you, the members, think about the idea of transforming OSTD from a provincial entity to a truly pan-Canadian voice for our profession.”
Stan White, an organizational development specialist with Dofasco in Hamilton and an OSTD board member, said the initial response from members was very positive. “At the conference, all I was doing was talking to people on the national issue. Really I only ran into one or two people who really didn’t think it was a good time to go national.”
While a name has not been chosen, this Canadian society for training and development would nationally promote the profession and its designation, the Certified Training & Development Professional (CTDP), increase networking and professional development opportunities and give the profession one united voice to speak on matters affecting it, said Lynda Trommelen, an Ottawa-based independent training consultant and OSTD board member.
The society was established in 1946 and now has members across the country though most still reside in Ontario.
Trommelen said the proposal to go national arose because OSTD was receiving requests to set up chapters in other provinces. Most OSTD members work in a corporate setting therefore many people find themselves being moved around the country.
“What they say is when we worked in Ontario we had this resource and we really got used to it. Can’t you come out here,” she said.
“Nothing within our mandate says we can’t do it but it seems rather strange to have a chapter of an Ontario entity in Nunavut. And so it begs the question ‘Should we become a national (organization)?’”
One of the other important motivations for becoming national is the opportunity to promote the CTDP across the country. “Our certification is a really big issue,” said Trommelen. The designation has been around less than four years so there aren’t that many people who hold it, she added. The standard is based on a peer review assessment of practical skills, work experience and a knowledge exam and is meant to set clear standards of professional practice and quality assurance.
The unique thing about training and development is that many people who are doing training haven’t had formal training about how to train, said Trommelen. They perform well in their jobs and then are asked to start training others. The designation proves a training and development professional has a body of knowledge and that they can demonstrate that expertise in a real-world setting. “Theory is great and we respect that but can you do it when you get out there,” she said.
OSTD uses a Training Competency Architecture (TCA) for comprehensive descriptions of the five major competency categories: analyzing performance and training needs, designing training, instructing or facilitating, evaluating training and coaching the application of training.
The knowledge exam tests the applicant’s ability in all five areas, and then the applicant chooses one area for peer review assessment.
Becoming a national body would also produce more and better information for members, said Trommelen. It is difficult to get a true sense of what is going on in the Canadian training community because there is no body to gather data and manage the information, she said.
OSTD has a partnership with American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), which is well-known for producing best practices research and monitoring of trends but the Canadian professionals need Canadian numbers.
Trommelen recalls a case at her former job with a health-care facility. She was making a proposal for a new e-learning initiative and had to rely on American data from ASTD.
“The thing that happened to me when I went for funding was they said where are the Canadian stats.”
White said access to a much larger number of members will be one of the big benefits of becoming a Canadian association.
Members would see an increase in networking opportunities, he said. “We have a huge base in Ontario, but we need to talk to people outside Ontario.”
White said he regularly uses the OSTD Web site to contact members, look for help and advice and share ideas and solutions.
OSTD has considered going national in the past. “We have looked at it before, at least twice that I know of, but we have never actually made a move on it before — just looked at the issue,” he said.
“The last time we looked at it, I don’t think we were in a position to actually move nationally. We have a lot more members and more chapters in Ontario now with a lot more base to help us along.”
Lynn Johnston, executive director of OSTD, said the key right now is to find out if OSTD members want them explore the option, she said.
“People seem to be quite enthusiastic about at least exploring it.” If the membership gives them a green light to move forward the next step maybe to gather feedback from other training professionals around the country.
Kim Ades, president of Toronto-based Upward Motion, a firm specializing in training technology, said that after much thought, she quit OSTD last year in part because she was disappointed by the speakers at the annual conference and by a lack of networking opportunities. As a training solutions vendor, she wanted access to customers. “What I look for is networking opportunities throughout the year and they were not there,” she said.
Becoming a national body would likely get Ades to rejoin. “I think that is a great idea,” she said. “First of all it increases our access as members to a greater source of people. I just think it gives greater exposure for us.”
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