Monday, October 12, 2015

A Model for Global Professional Training

The time to change Professional Training has come.

Despite its prominence, Professional Training hardly features on the agenda of Education Innovators. This is because of its legacy - clearly defined professional bodies, enabled by charters, defining the standards and assessing the competence - and its clear linkages to jobs. In many ways, this is the least broken part of the modern, industrial age, education system.

But this is perhaps not the picture one gets to see from inside. The professions, and the national monopolies that they implicitly draw upon, are indeed challenged by the same two forces that are transforming education - globalization and automation! Some professions are more exposed than others, and in some countries more than others, but there is an unmissable case for transformation. 

To understand why it is so, one needs to look at the changing nature of professional knowledge. That there is self-service (or should we call it DIY?) in many areas from tax returns to legal claims aided by automation, simplified processes and more educated consumers come on top of the increasingly open nature of expertise! There is simply more information available on how to arrive at a diagnosis, and indeed more scope to self-diagnose (and for those difficult patients, to make Doctors miserable by asking silly questions), rather than leaving all of it to the black box of medical expertise. And, this means breaking down of jobs, and drawing on global resources to complete a task, referring only a fraction of it to the Professionals. 

Indeed, this elevates professional work - but also creates new challenges! A doctor has to explain more, a lawyer has to be more careful, the accountant is compiling income and cost streams arising out of different countries, marketers are dealing with soft issues of culture, so on and so forth. Global labour market may not still be a reality, but there is a clear global competition for coveted professional titles - creating opportunities for professional bodies while creating challenges for the professionals. 

A new paradigm of professional education is therefore needed, one that integrates the opportunities and the challenges of this new professional identity, and draws on to the future more closely than it basks in its past glory. While much of the thinking in professional education still evolves around the past models of charters and national monopolies, there are some, highly successful, global attempts to develop frameworks and memberships across the world. I see the renaming of well-known American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) to a more supra-national Association for Talent Development (ATD) a step in that direction, though the name change may not have been backed up a corresponding change in thinking. But this is just one step in a great chain of transformation, and I see an opportunity here among the training providers, who can use their deep knowledge of professional standards and competency development and leverage that to create open training frameworks leading to experiences and awards from different countries and bodies. In my work, I am exploring the possibility of creating one such platform, that would work closely with professional bodies and employers to create an open framework of competency development, enabling a sort of global talent exchange.  


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