Barker, P. (2000), "Handbook of Training and Development", The Electronic Library, Vol. 18 No. 3, pp. 216-238. https://doi.org/10.1108/el.2000.18.3.216.6
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
In many ways, the general theme of this handbook is aptly summarised by a quotation from Peter Drucker that appears as the very first line of the Introduction to the book: “Education can no longer be confined to schools. Every employing institution has to become a teacher.” Indeed, the “new” importance now attached to learning and training within organisations is also emphasised by the book’s editor when he writes: “It is now crystal clear that in today’s changing world an organisation’s very survival depends upon how they support their people to learn and keep on learning”.
This book, now in its third edition, contains some 38 chapters. Following on from the contributors’ biographies, the material that it contains is organised into five main sections. Each of these deals with a major theme area, namely: “Training and Development and the Learning Organisation”; “Best Structures for Training and Development”; “Advanced Techniques in Training and Development”; “IT Related Learning”; and “Evaluation”.
The eight chapters that make up the first section of the book present a range of contributions that give consideration to learning as a continuous ongoing process of development. Two perspectives are considered: that of the individual; and that of an organisation. Some of the important topics covered in this section include: learning for change; lifelong learning and continuing professional development; national occupational standards; learning styles and the learning organisation; and the manager as a trainer. In my reading of the book, I found that the chapters in this section formed a very useful foundation for the material that followed in subsequent parts of the handbook.
The second part of the book contains nine chapters. The underlying collective theme of these relates to “best practice” in relation to training and development. Collectively, the contributions in this section highlight the many varied disciplines and strategies that need to be considered within the context of developing training activities. The section commences with a detailed analysis of the learning process. This is followed by chapters on training needs analysis and designing effective training. The other important topics discussed in this section of the handbook include: competencies, Investors in People, open learning, self‐managed learning, personal development and PDPs (personal development plans).
Containing 11 chapters, the third part of the handbook is undoubtedly the largest. It deals with some of the latest techniques and models that underpin advanced trainer performance. This section starts off with chapters that deal with transactional analysis, neuro‐linguistic programming and accelerated learning programmes (based on the “MESSAGE” model). These are followed by contributions that describe the role and importance of: action learning; the art of facilitation; performance coaching; and mentoring. The four chapters that make up the final part of this section then consider several other important techniques – such as drama‐based training, role‐play and using counselling skills.
In the third part of the handbook, nothing was said about the use of IT‐based techniques for training. Examples of these are therefore presented in section four (“IT Related Learning”). Surprisingly, this section of the book only contains four chapters, and so is by far the shortest. Indeed, the editor comments that this section of the book “is the one that is most likely to expand in future years” (p. 319). The fundamental question addressed in this section is simply “what are the issues of applying technology today to deliver learning in the workplace?” In answering this question, the opening chapter (“Web‐Based Training”) deals with using the Internet and intranets for delivering and providing access to training resources. Subsequent chapters then consider the use of: multimedia and CBT (computer‐based training); computer‐based games and simulations; and technology‐supported learning. In my view, one important aspect of technology‐based training that seems to have been overlooked (both in this section and, overall, in the book itself) is the use of an “electronic performance support system” (EPSS) as a vehicle for skill and knowledge augmentation. If, as the editor suggests, this section of the handbook is to be expanded in future editions, EPSS would be an area that would be worthy of inclusion as this is now a well‐established training technique.
The final section of the handbook contains six chapters. The first five of these focus on the important theme of evaluation in training and development. The main topics that are considered include: practical and theoretical issues; budgeting and financial control; performance management; using assessment and development centres; and the use of psychometric testing in management development. Although these topics are not discussed until the last section of the book, their importance should not be under‐estimated. Indeed, each of the authors emphasises the point that evaluation is critical to planning, setting standards and assessing outcomes.
According to the editor, the last chapter in the handbook was chosen to act as an “endpiece”. Its focus on futuristic, “New World” perspectives in training and development is therefore highly appropriate. Essentially, this final contribution addresses the need to consider the impact of change within management education and development – as new “cyberspace environments” become available for educational purposes. Within this chapter the author describes some of his experiences of using a “Virtual Business School” and then goes on to discuss how this type of structure might influence training and development activities in the future.
Having now read this book, and bearing in mind my comment on EPSS, my overall conclusion is that its 38 chapters provide a fairly comprehensive treatment of training activities in workplace settings. Indeed, within its covers this handbook brings together a wide range of powerful ideas and techniques relating to the provision of work‐based training and learning opportunities. Because of the wealth of useful material that it contains, I am sure that this handbook would be an extremely valuable asset to anyone involved in designing and organising training activities either for use in the workplace or in other educational contexts.