T&D comes into its own

National association grows 25 per cent in three years

The war for talent in Calgary has increased the value organizations place on training and development, said the chair of the Calgary chapter of the Canadian Society for Training and Development.

“Learning and development in Calgary has suddenly really blossomed as a way to help an organization get over this issue of not having enough staff,” said Val Carter. “Keeping people engaged by giving them skills to develop their career to add more value to the organization — that is really huge. That is part of the reason why training and development in Calgary is coming into its own.”

This maturation of the profession accounts in part for the Calgary chapter’s astronomical growth over the past year. The chapter’s membership grew by 77.6 per cent, from 74 in 2004-2005 to 131 in 2005-2006.

In fact, overall membership at the Canadian Society for Training and Development (CSTD) has grown by 25 per cent, to 1,976 members, since the former Ontario Society for Training and Development (OSTD) went national in 2003.

In 2003, the CSTD had eight chapters. Now, the association has 17 chapters across the country.

“It shows the need,” said Carter. “It shows that this is something that people have been waiting for.”

The push to go national came in part from the nine per cent of the members of the old OSTD who were from outside Ontario, said Lynn Johnston, president of CSTD. And while she’s pleased with the growth so far, she’s not content to sit on her laurels.

“We’re just starting to scratch the surface in areas outside of Ontario. We need to help our chapters raise awareness about what we’re doing and reach out to different parts of the country and make sure we’ve found all those who might be interested,” she said.

The benefits of a national association include providing a forum for networking with peers, professional development at the national and local level and raising awareness about the value of training and development in the workplace, said Johnston.

Carter credits the Calgary chapter’s growth to its focus on networking and bringing in cutting-edge speakers who can share new, practical information with members at meetings.

“We select our speakers very carefully,” she said. “It has to be a topic that people find interesting, different and something that’s going to help them out at work.”

The meetings also offer a safe haven, free of the hard sell, she said. While vendors are encouraged to attend meetings and network, they’re strongly discouraged from trying to sell their wares to other members.

“I think that’s the secret to our success,” said Carter.

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