Learning and Talent Development

John P. Wilson (University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)

Industrial and Commercial Training

ISSN: 0019-7858

Article publication date: 6 September 2011



Wilson, J.P. (2011), "Learning and Talent Development", Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 43 No. 6, pp. 395-396. https://doi.org/10.1108/00197851111160540



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

This book, published by the CIPD, is designed as the key textbook for the CIPD Learning and Talent Development module and is particularly targeted at undergraduate and post‐graduate level students who are studying Learning and Development; as well as academics and professional practitioners. This module is part of the new CIPD advanced‐level qualifications, which enable professional membership of the CIPD; and, although it has this focus it will be a valuable resource for anyone interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the subject.

The authors of the book are Jim Stewart, Chief Examiner for the CIPD's Learning and Talent Development,and Professor in HRD at Leeds Metropolitan University; and, Clare Rigg who lectures at the Institute of Technology, Tralee, Ireland. Both have extensive experience in the area of learning and talent development and there are several reasons for them writing this book: firstly, the CIPD has revised its qualifications. The second reason is that the authors have a long and distinguished career in the subject; and thirdly, they both wish to influence and shape professional practice.

The authors note an increasing trend to include Human Resource Development within undergraduate courses, which is to be greatly welcomed since this greater recognition illustrates the increasing importance of the subject. This trend also reduces the enormous imbalance between HRM and HRD, with HRM wrongly being considered to incorporate HRD. In fact, the two areas of HRM and HRD are separate sub‐branches of HR and HRD is an equal partner with HRM.

The book has four main aims:

  1. 1.

    introducing and examining the main concepts associated with the CIPD syllabus;

  2. 2.

    describing the main theories involved with the practice of HRD/learning and talent development;

  3. 3.

    providing a resource for the academic study of the subject; and

  4. 4.

    critically examining the theory of learning and development.

The book is divided into three parts. The first part focuses on the nature, purpose and context of learning and talent development and consists of five chapters. Chapter one provides an introduction and overview of the book while the second chapter considers the organising and managing of learning and talent development. There is a brief consideration of the meaning of learning which is largely descriptive and lacking in a clear exposition. The chapter includes the CIPD's particularly inadequate definition of learning as, “A self‐directed, work‐based process leading to increased adaptive capacity,” whatever that means. Fortunately, Chapter six provides a detailed consideration of a range of learning dimensions.

Similarly, the use of the word “talent” is discussed. The term came to prominence with the 1997 McKinsey report about the “war for talent” which was predominantly about high‐level talent and not talent across the whole organisation. This precipitated a wide debate about the meaning of talent and Stewart and Rigg maintain that talent development should be about everyone in the organisation. However, this terminology can, and is, regularly misunderstood and those in the profession need to come up with a better noun to describe this area of activity – whatever happened to employee development or people development? The subsequent chapters, in part one, address international and national contexts; organisational contexts; and the politics of learning and talent development.

The second part consists of three chapters, which examine the process of learning and talent development. Chapters address the nature of learning, development needs and practical strategies. The third part contains five chapters involving the design and evaluation of talent development; accessing and managing resources; ethics and professionalism; doing a student research project (written by Victoria Harte) and a conclusion.

Each chapter has a common structure involving: overview, intended learning outcomes, main content, in‐text activities, case histories and illustrations, summary, application activities, discussion questions, extended case study, and suggested reading. There is an extensive reference list at the end of the book. There are also web references which can be helpful, however, the perennial problem with many of these is that they can become out‐of‐date and, therefore, inaccessible.

In summary, this is a good book, which satisfies the needs of a range of users including students, academics and professional practitioners.

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