At its core, learning and development (L&D) is about creating a culture of continuous learning and growth that enables organisations to constantly evolve and people to develop to their full potential. 

What does a learning and development specialist do?

At the macro level, L&D is about understanding the organisation strategy and its future capability needs in order to identify learning priorities across the organisation. On an individual level, it’s about creating learning environments where employees can continuously develop to be their best.

L&D specialists put in place learning initiatives that enable organisations to constantly evolve and develop. Motivational and behavioural science are key to impactful learning, and learning is about much more than just attending courses. An L&D specialist excels at identifying the current and future skills requirements of an organisation, and creates flexible learning interventions (through digital and other means) to meet the diverse needs of the workforce.

Your typical activities

Here are some of the activities you can expect to be involved in as an L&D specialist:

  • Carrying out capability assessments across the organisation
  • Designing blended learning solutions for example, digital, face to face, social collaborative learning, coaching, action learning sets, and so on. 
  • Using digital tools to create flexible and innovative learning programmes
  • Applying adult learning theories to ensure employees get the best out of their development
  • Designing a range of learning interventions, including technical, behavioural and leadership programmes and working with external partners where relevant
  • Driving a culture of continuing professional development (CPD)
  • Facilitating learning interventions
  • Creating a coaching culture in the organisation
  • Monitoring how effectively learning has been transferred to employees.

A day in the life of an
L&D specialist

A day in the life of Neil Barnett, Learning and Development Adviser at Samaritans

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Types of roles in learning and development

Here is a shortlist of the types of job titles you might find in L&D. As you can see, L&D specialists are at all levels of experience and seniority:

  • Learning administrator
  • Facilitator (face to face or online)
  • Training deliverer (face to face or online)
  • Learning and development business partner
  • Learning and development manager
  • Head of learning and development
  • Director of learning and development.
  • Instructional designer
  • Digital learning designer
  • Learning assessor

CIPD Learning courses in Learning and Development

Leading Learning and Development

Enhance your capability and practice around leading the Learning and Development agenda in teams and organisations

How to create and run successful webinars

Learn how to create engaging and effective learning through great webinars in this highly practical live online course

Video: We can all be agile learners

With the technology at their disposal, L&D professionals have a duty to change the way employees learn, says Mike Shaw – whether that means becoming agile content curators or strategic business partners.

Develop your knowledge in learning and development

Learning and development standards

Each L&D standard progresses through four levels of impact. Which level do you most embody in your day-to-day work?

Learning and development resources

Devise a learning and development strategy aligned with organisational objectives and priorities.

Find your perfect job in HR, L&D or any other area of the people profession

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Career options in the
people profession

Explore the twelve career areas within the people profession, and the typical activities you may find yourself doing

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Career guidance

Information and guidance to help you excel in your role, transition into the profession, and manage a career break

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