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ASTD Competency Model

“There is only one thing worse than training employees and losing them, and that's not training them and keeping them.”

The training and development profession, like the human resource profession, has changed significantly during the past decade, and so have the skills and knowledge that practitioners need to be successful in the field. The American Society for Training & Development (ASTD), an association for learning and development professionals, has updated its competency model to guide training professionals’ career development.


The ASTD Competency Model provides two sets of actionable paths. First, it offers a broad inventory of topics—such as business acumen, global mindset and industry knowledge—that training professionals need to understand in today’s rapidly changing business environment. Second, it provides specific actions these professionals should take within functional areas—including change management, coaching, integrated talent management, and training design and delivery—to improve their skills and performance.

The society did the last major revisions of the model in 2004. More recently, it undertook extensive research that revealed that training professionals need to stay abreast of new and emerging technologies and to become experts in matching appropriate technologies to specific learning needs. In addition, they must transform from providers of training to facilitators of learning, content curators, information managers and builders of learning communities.

The research also showed that practitioners must learn to design and present learning as a process, instead of as discrete training events, and that they must become business partners by aligning activities to organization strategies and using metrics that are meaningful to business.


Jennifer Naughton, senior director of credentialing at the ASTD, described the model as a road map for professional development that should be used by trainers and learning leaders. “Training and development leaders can use the model as a line of sight to missing or underdeveloped competencies that may be blocking career advancement for the learning staff,” she said. “It also gives [them] objective criteria for recruiting, selecting, appraising and developing their staff.”

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