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Journal of Vocational and Technical Education

Editor:
Kirk Swortzel:   kswortzel@ais.msstate.edu

Volume 15, Number 2
Spring 1999

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Preparing Tomorrow's HRD Professionals: Perceived Relevance of the 1989 Competency Model

Donna E. Dare
James A. Leach
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Abstract

This article follows up on a 1991 study of competencies for trainers (Leach, 1993). University Council of Vocational Education faculty were asked to provide their perceptions of the importance of competencies and the extent to which these competencies are currently included in their Human Resource Development (HRD) professional preparation programs. Of the 25 competencies used for both studies, 23 were rated as important in 1997, and 19 of these 23 were perceived to be less than adequately covered in course work--up from 13 of 25 in 1991 .

The field of vocational and technical education has evolved significantly in the past decade to place greater emphasis on preparation of individuals for employment in business and industrial settings. In fact, several vocational and technical education departments in prominent universities have changed their names to embrace the human resource development role. Concurrent changes in the work place have had an impact on the roles of trainers in business and industrial settings and the competencies required of trainers to perform those roles effectively (Argyris, 1994; Baylen, Bailey, & Samardzija, 1996; Joyce & Voytek, 1996; McLagan, 1996; Rhinesmith, 1994). The demand for employee training and development continues to increase. It was estimated that U.S. organizations would spend approximately $60 billion on formal training in 1997, up from $43.2 billion in 1991 and up approximately five percent from 1996 (Industry Report, 1997).

Background of the Study

While many recent studies have addressed the issue of required competencies of trainers (Fulkert, 1997; Hodkinson, 1994; Kaeter, 1995; Mager, 1996; Marquardt and Engel, 1993; Olson, 1994, Reddick, 1997), there does not appear to be consensus regarding what, if any, new skills are required for an HRD professional. The competencies identified in Models for HRD Practice (McLagan, 1989) and later adopted as a definitive model of competencies by the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) appear to continue to provide the basis for preparation of HRD professionals. In 1991, Leach (1993) conducted a study published in JVTE to determine how vocational faculty at the university level were addressing the emerging need to prepare training professionals for business and industry. Respondents in that study perceived that 21 of the 25 competencies for trainers that were defined by McLagan in 1989 were important for graduates of their programs. Thirteen were considered important but not adequately covered in the curriculum taught by faculty in departments belonging to the University Council of Vocational Education (UCVE).

The following competencies used for Leach's 1991 study were identified in Models for HRD Practice (McLagan, 1989). Although the 1991 study identified thirty-five competencies, thirteen were omitted from the original questionnaire because they were deemed to be too vague (open to too many interpretations) or too complicated to be adequately described on a brief questionnaire. All of the competencies except evaluation skill, media selection skill, and budget and resource management skill were derived from the Models for HRD Practice study. These three competencies were included because they had been identified as important in other prominent research in the field (International Board of Standards for Training, Performance, and Instruction, 1988; McLagan, 1983).

Technical competencies

  • Adult-learning understanding - Knowing how adults acquire and use knowledge, skills, and attitudes; understanding individual differences in learning
  • Career development theories and techniques understanding - Knowing the techniques and methods used in career development; understanding their appropriate uses
  • Competency identification skill -Identifying the knowledge and skill requirements of jobs, tasks, and roles
  • Computer competence - Understanding or using computer applications
  • Electronic-systems skill - Having knowledge of functions, features, and potential applications of electronic systems for the delivery and management of HRD
  • Evaluation skill - Determining the effectiveness of training and its impact on the organization
  • Media selection skill - Selecting and utilizing appropriate media methods according to the dictates of the learning situation
  • Objectives preparation skill - Preparing clear statements that describe desired outputs
  • Training and development theories and techniques understanding - Knowing the theories and methods used in training; understanding their appropriate uses
  • Research skill - Selecting, developing, and using methodologies such as statistical and data collection techniques for formal inquiry

Business competencies

  • Budget and resource management skill -Utilizing, prioritizing, and managing financial, material, and human resources in an efficient manner
  • Business understanding -Knowing how the functions of a business work and relate to each other; knowing the economic impact of business decisions
  • Organization behavior understanding -Seeing organizations as dynamic, political, economic, and social systems that have multiple goals; using that larger perspective as a framework for understanding and influencing events
  • Organization-development theories and techniques - Knowing the techniques and methods used in organization development; understanding their appropriate use

Interpersonal competencies

  • Coaching skill - Helping individuals recognize and understand personal needs, values, problems, alternatives, and goals
  • Feedback skill -Communicating information, opinions, observations, and conclusions so that they are understood and can be acted upon
  • Group-process skill -Influencing groups so that tasks, relationships, and individual needs are addressed
  • Negotiation skill -Securing "win-win" agreements while successfully representing a special interest in a decision
  • Presentation skill -Presenting information orally so that an intended purpose is achieved
  • Questioning skill - Gathering information from and stimulating insight in individuals and other groups through the use of interviews, questionnaires, and other probing methods
  • Relationship-building skill - Establishing relationships and networks across a broad range of people and groups
  • Writing skill - Preparing written material that follows generally accepted rules of style and form, is appropriate for the audience, and is creative, and accomplishes its intended purpose

Intellectual competencies

  • Data-reduction skill - Scanning, synthesizing, and drawing conclusions from data
  • Information-search skill - Gathering information from printed and other recorded sources; identifying and using information specialists and reference services and aids
  • Visioning skill- Projecting trends and visualizing possible and probable futures and their implications

Given the increased demand for trainers and for training functions in business and industry (Holton & Trott, 1996; Industry Report, 1997; Lynch & Cross, 1995; Mager, 1996; Manz & Sims, 1995; Robinson & Robinson, 1995) and the changes in the field of vocational and technical education (Carnevale & Stone, 1995; Reddick, 1997; Rifkin, 1995; Tobin, 1996, Wirth, 1992; Worley, Hitchin, & Ross, 1996), the question arises as to the extent to which this classic list of competencies remains the basis for academic programs. Thus, using the 1989 model (McLagan, 1989) as a framework, this follow up study was conducted to determine what, if any, changes have occurred in terms of UCVE faculty members' perceptions of the importance of these competencies and the extent to which these competencies are covered in their curricula. Certainly, larger questions need to be answered as to how competencies and skills of trainers should be defined and where these competencies and skills should be addressed in an educational continuum. However, this follow up to the 1991 study was designed specifically to identify any changes in perception regarding the teaching of these competencies by UCVE faculty.

Review of Literature

A wealth of literature (e.g., Carnevale & Stone, 1995; Murnane & Levy, 1996; Rifkin, 1995; Tobin, 1996; Wirth, 1992; Worley, Hitchin, & Ross, 1996) addresses the ever-evolving trends in business and industry that result from changes in the global market place and in technology. Additional literature is beginning to address the need for training that will keep up with workplace evolutions (Holton, & Trott, Jr., 1996; Law, 1994; Lynch & Cross, 1995; Manz & Sims, 1995; Robinson & Robinson, 1995). However, what has to emerge concurrently is sound practice for educating trainers who will design, implement, and conduct training in the business and industrial environment.

The academic community must also address the value and relevance of degree programs that prepare trainers to take their places in business and industrial environments (Baylen, Bailey, & Samardzija, 1996). Kaeter (1995) presented cases both for and against degrees in human resource development (HRD). Arguments on the side against degrees for HRD professionals suggested that preparation of trainers within academic institutions is too theoretical and not realistic enough. Trainers and executives cited in the article indicated that degrees in HRD do not prepare trainers for their "multidisciplinary roles" or prepare them with a whole set of skills they need--including flexibility, the ability to deal with personalities and politics in the work place, and the ability to work with intense deadline pressures (p. 68).

Kaeteras (1995) primary argument is that, because HRD is still in its infancy, confusion still reigns in the academic world that deals with HRD training. Even though ASTD has identified 11 subject areas to help prepare a person for a career in training (Kaeter, 1995), Kaeter suggests that many programs in these areas are still "vaporous" (p. 74). The 11 subject areas identified by ASTD are:

  • Administrative/educational leadership
  • Adult education
  • Career development
  • Human resource development
  • Human resource management with an emphasis in human resources development
  • Industrial psychology
  • Instructional design and development
  • Instructional technology
  • Organization communications
  • Organization development
  • Vocational/technical education

Kaeter concludes by saying that these areas of study do not guarantee that graduates of these programs will come out with specific sets of competencies.

While there may be some consensus on areas of study for trainers, no definitive model for the emerging role of trainers (McLagan, 1996), for the competencies of trainers, or for levels of education required for trainers seems to have emerged since the 1989 model. Although Mager (1996) described what trainers of the next century should look like, he did not further define these desired characteristics in terms of specific competencies or skills that would serve as a model for preparing trainers. The characteristics he suggested are:

  • Performance-oriented
  • Technically skilled
  • Socially skilled
  • Self-employable
  • Bilingual
  • Internationally qualified

Like many other descriptions of trainers, these characteristics, for the most part, closely parallel the four major areas of the 1989 model (technical competency, business competency, interpersonal competency, and intellectual competency), and Mager's descriptions reiterate much of what is already known about desirable competencies for trainers. However, the attention to bilingualism and international experience clearly reflect the more current trend to address more global issues in work force development.

Another article (Marquardt & Engel, 1993) related to competencies of trainers also focuses on needs that relate to the more global work place. Marquardt and Engel state that the competencies that make trainers effective in corporate America do not necessarily guarantee effectiveness in other cultural settings. These writers have identified 16 competencies (arranged within the areas of attitudes, skills, and knowledge) they believe will contribute to the success of HRD practitioners in cross-cultural settings:

Attitudes

  • Respect for the values and practices of other cultures
  • Patience with, and tolerance of, ambiguity
  • Commitment to HRD principles and practices
  • Initiative and persistence
  • A sense of humor

Skills that empower

  • Cultural flexibility
  • Communication skills
  • HRD skills
  • Creativity
  • Self-management of learning

Important areas of knowledge

  • Knowledge of one's own culture
  • Knowledge of the target culture
  • Knowledge of the theory and practice of HR
  • Knowledge of the language of the target culture
  • Knowledge of the relevant corporate cultures
  • A global perspective

The three major groupings of these competencies (attitudes, skills that empower, and important areas of knowledge) address many of the same areas as the four major groups used by Leach (technical, business, interpersonal, and intellectual) in 1991. However, the individual competencies identified by Marquardt and Engel seem more interpersonal and cultural in nature than those competencies identified in 1989.

Among other studies, several dissertations written since 1990 have specifically addressed the issue of competencies for trainers. Rather than developing a new model of competencies, at least two of these studies (Schrick, 1992; Dingus, 1990) relied on the McLagan model that was adopted by ASTD and since has been referred to as the ASTD model. A third study (Williams, 1996) focused more on validating the level of competence of trainers.

Even amidst a contemporary educational environment rampant with the search for standards of performance at all levels, no clear model seems to have emerged to replace the competencies as they were defined in earlier studies and used by Leach in the 1991 study of perceptions regarding the competencies of trainers. While the role of trainers may change due to the changing context of the business environment (Argyris, 1994; McLagan, 1996; Rhinesmith, 1994; Sloman, 1994), there is no indication that the previously identified competencies will be less valued. As the literature indicates, although the originally identified competencies may be supplemented with the ability to function in cross-cultural roles and with other abilities, the four areas of competency and most of the individual competencies still bear a great deal of relevance to competencies described in more recent studies cited above. Thus, researchers determined that the use of the 1989 model was still beneficial for examining the question of what competencies are important and to what extent they should be covered in academic course work related to the preparation of trainers.

The Problem

The rapid pace of change in business and industry and the increasing demand for training workers combine to provide a call to those who educate trainers to continually examine the practice of training trainers who will be able to meet the needs of business and industry (Joyce & Voytek, 1996). Thus, institutions of higher education, among many other entities who are involved in preparing trainers for positions in business and industry, must be prepared to meet that need. Determining what competencies should be taught is a question that needs to be answered on an ongoing basis.

Recent HRD literature on learning organizations suggests new approaches to teaching and learning. However, even so, there has been no definitive movement away from discussions of standards, which inherently include discussions regarding the competencies and skills of professionals, such as trainers, who have specific roles related to teaching and learning. While future studies should encompass the responses of entities other than UCVE faculty who are involved in training and educating trainers, this study focused specifically on changes in perceptions of the competencies identified in the 1991 study that are designed to support the learning process and not on changes in perceptions of the learning process itself.

In looking specifically at the university environment, Reddick (1997) indicated that the relationship between competencies of trainers and HRD curriculum offered at the master's degree level in university environments remains unclear. This study indicated that HRD is, in fact, an "academic hybrid" and that graduate degree programs in HRD do not yet have a strategic approach to developing a group of standardized competencies of trainers. Reddick's study validates the need to examine trends among university faculty who have been involved in training trainers.

The roles of vocational educators involved with business and industry are distinctly different from those of vocational educators employed in secondary public schools. As training and development programs become increasingly prominent in business and industry and as vocational teacher education programs at the university level take on the expanded role of preparing professionals for training and development positions, vocational teacher education programs must change accordingly. It is imperative that any evolving curricula embrace the knowledge base and skills required to perform this emerging role successfully. One challenge for researchers, then, is to validate what is important to include in the preparation of trainers for business and industry and to modify curricula in ways that respond to changes and needs of the work place.

Purpose of the Study

The primary purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which vocational teacher education programs include appropriate knowledge and skill training to successfully prepare vocational educators for training positions in business and industry. More specifically, the intent was to assess changes in the perceptions of vocational teacher educators regarding the importance of the competencies identified in the HRD competency model (McLagan, 1989) for graduates of their vocational teacher education programs. In addition, the vocational teacher educators were asked to provide estimates of the extent to which these competencies are covered in students' course work. The following research questions related to this purpose were addressed:

  1. To what extent are the competencies considered important by UCVE faculty?
  2. To what extent are the competencies currently covered in their course work?
  3. Have perceptions of UCVE faculty regarding the importance of the competencies and the extent of coverage of the competencies changed since 1991?
  4. Are there differences in perceived importance and perceived extent of coverage of the competencies between graduate courses and undergraduate courses taught by UCVE faculty?

Research Procedures

Participants

While it is recognized that the preparation of trainers is not limited to universities and is not exclusively conducted by vocational faculty, most university vocational and technical education departments place graduates of their programs in training positions in business and industry (Leach, 1993). Thus, participants selected for this study were faculty who teach in programs in institutions that are members of the University Council for Vocational Education (UCVE). During the spring of 1997, a survey instrument was sent to all faculty members from the nineteen UCVE institutions listed in the 1996-97 UCVE directory.

In the past few years, vocational education departments in universities across the nation have been realigned to meet current demands related to workforce preparation. Because it is increasingly difficult to identify clear distinctions between traditional vocational education areas such as agriculture, health occupations, business education, etc. and human resource development, it was decided not to eliminate any faculty who were listed in the UCVE directory. Thus, the survey was mailed to all 430 faculty members within related departments in UCVE institutions. Although researchers understood that this decision would have a significantly negative impact on the response rate, it was felt that faculty members were better able to eliminate themselves from participation in the study based on what they know about the content and purpose of their specific programs. The other alternative was to eliminate faculty based on affiliation with specific program titles. However, due to changes in vocational programs and placement of faculty in departments other than vocational education departments, researchers determined that mailing the survey to all UCVE faculty members was the better approach.

Selection of participants for the 1997 study was different from the 1991 study in another way. In the former study, department chairs/heads from each of the UCVE institutions were contacted and asked to identify appropriate faculty members or program heads representing each vocational curriculum housed in their department (i.e., Agriculture, Business/Marketing, Health, Home Economics, Industrial Education, and Technology) to complete the questionnaire. Again, researchers determined that this procedure might limit the knowledge that could be gained by asking a broader range of faculty members for their responses.

Instrumentation

The instrument for this study was structured like the 1991 survey in order to accommodate comparison of perceptions of the same issues, namely the importance of the competencies and the extent to which they are covered in the curriculum. A three-column questionnaire was developed for the study. A list and brief definition of each of the twenty-five competencies to be assessed was provided in column two, in the middle of the questionnaire. In column one, respondents were asked to estimate the extent to which each competency is covered in students' course work. In column three, respondents were asked to rate the importance of each competency for graduates of their vocational teacher education program. Based on comments from the 1991 study, the instrument was modified to also provide for separate responses for undergraduate and graduate studies.

Data Analysis

Using a four-point Likert-type scale, respondents were asked to indicate in column one of the questionnaire the extent to which they perceived each of the competencies is covered in students' course work. Respondents were asked to rate each competency as either not covered (assigned a point value of 1), covered somewhat (assigned a point value of 2), covered adequately (assigned a point value of 3), or covered extensively (assigned a point value of 4). In column three, respondents were asked to rate the importance of each competency for graduates of their programs as either of no importance (assigned a point value of 1), not very important (assigned a point value of 2), somewhat important (assigned a point value of 3), or very important (assigned a point value of 4). Competencies that received a ranking ofÒ 3.0 were considered important and adequately covered. The significance level for this study was set at a = .05, the significance level also used for the 1991 study.

Of the 430 surveys mailed, 164 were returned. Twenty-four respondents indicated that they did not have the knowledge or current experience of the HRD field to respond adequately to the survey items. Thus, of the 164 returned surveys, 137 were usable. Of the 137, 117 contained responses for both graduate and undergraduate courses; 17 contained responses for graduate courses only; and 7 contained responses for undergraduate courses only.

Findings

Based on responses from the 1997 survey, competencies for trainers that were defined in 1989 and considered important in 1991 as well are still considered important in 1997; yet many of these competencies are perceived as less than adequately covered in both graduate and undergraduate studies. Skills that have increased significantly in perceived importance since the 1991 study are the technical skills of research and electronic-systems and the intellectual skill of visioning.

Table 1 provides a listing of all competencies included in the study. Twenty-three of the twenty-five competencies were ranked as important (Ò 3.0 ) in the 1997 study. Of the 23 competencies perceived as important, 19 skills were also perceived as not adequately covered in course work (<3.0): adult learning understanding, career development theories and techniques understanding, competency identification skill, computer competence, electronic-systems skill, evaluation skill, media selection skill, training and development theories and techniques understanding, research skill, organization behavior understanding, organization development theories and techniques, coaching skill, group-process skill, questioning skill, feedback skill, negotiation skill, relationship-building skill, data-reduction skill, and visioning skill. This figure of 19 competencies considered important (Ò 3.0 ) but not adequately covered (<3.0) compares to the 1991 study figure of 13 competencies that were considered important but not adequately covered. Table 1 provides a listing of competencies in the order of their perceived importance as it was rated by UCVE faculty in the 1997 study.

Table 1

Importance of Competency and Extent of Coverage as Perceived by Both 1991 and 1997 Respondents

Competency

Importance of Competency

Extent of Coverage

 

1991

Mean and standard deviation (n=25)

1997

Mean and standard deviation (n=137)

1991

Mean and standard deviation (n=25)

1997

Mean and standard deviation (n=137)

Writing skill*

3.69

3.74

3.01

3.07

 

.54

.55

.65

.90

Presentation skill*

3.76

3.65

3.60

3.13

 

.42

.70

.49

.96

Computer competence

3.55

3.61

2.82

2.75

 

.55

.73

.81

.97

Objectives preparation skill*

3.75

.43

3.53

.75

3.61

.56

3.19

.95

Information-search skill*

3.40

3.51

2.85

3.00

 

.70

.68

.71

.80

Group-process skill

3.53

3.50

2.91

2.86

 

.60

.65

.84

.93

Questioning skill

3.61

3.50

3.24

2.84

 

.59

.65

.75

.89

Feedback skill

3.54

3.45

3.04

2.78

 

.55

.68

.72

.89

Adult-learning understanding

3.29

3.43

2.52

2.70

 

.71

.78

.77

.98

Relationship-building skill

3.53

3.43

2.94

2.64

 

.64

.68

.94

.93

Evaluation skill

3.52

3.42

2.85

2.74

 

.64

.72

.74

.90

Visioning skill

3.12

3.36

2.25

2.37

 

.79

.70

.73

.86

Data reduction skill

3.16

3.31

2.45

2.57

 

.72

.77

.70

.83

Coaching skill

3.41

3.31

2.89

2.56

 

.64

.80

.85

.98

Media selection skill

3.37

3.28

3.08

2.76

 

.58

.73

.69

.84

Competency identification skill

3.50

.72

3.24

.89

3.04

.81

2.80

.99

Research skill

2.75

3.19

2.32

2.79

 

.80

.70

.87

.71

Negotiation skill

2.95

3.18

2.09

2.18

 

.80

.90

.79

.96

Organization behavior

3.06

3.17

2.36

2.49

 

.84

.88

.91

.99

Career development theories and technical understanding

3.04

.62

3.13

.83

2.36

.67

2.41

.96

Training and development theories and techniques understanding

3.22

.78

3.12

.97

2.66

.93

2.72

1.03

Electronic-systems skill

2.78

3.10

2.02

2.31

 

.82

.95

.80

.95

Organization development theories and techniques

2.79

.86

3.03

.87

2.22

.86

2.41

.94

Budget and resource management skill

3.02

.84

2.93

.90

2.16

.82

2.09

.84

Business understanding

2.91

.89

2.87

.91

2.31

.89

2.25

.93

Notes:

An * indicates that the competency is considered adequately covered in course work.

Two-tailed t-tests were used to determine significant differences between pairs of responses. On the basis of these two-tailed t-tests, three competencies were perceived as significantly more important by participants in the 1997 study than by participants in the 1991 study. Importance ratings provided by the 1997 respondents were significantly higher for the technical competencies of research skill and electronic-systems skill and the intellectual competency of visioning skill than they were in 1991.

Two other competencies were perceived as significantly less important than in the 1991 survey. They are competency identification skill and objectives preparation skill, both of which are technical competencies.

The 1997 respondents indicated a significant difference in their perceptions of the extent of coverage as it relates to several competencies. Coaching skill was considered adequately covered now, though it was perceived as being covered to a greater extent in 1991. The media selection skill, also significantly different, was considered adequately covered in 1991 but was not considered adequately covered in 1997. Other skills considered significantly different in extent of coverage by the two samples but not adequately covered in either 1991 or 1997 are electronic-systems skill, research skill, feedback skill, and presentation skill.

The responses for the 1997 study were also examined to compare the perceived importance of each competency for undergraduate studies and graduate studies and to compare the perceived extent of coverage for undergraduate studies and graduate studies. T -tests were run to determine the means of the paired samples. The competencies that were not considered significantly different as to importance were: competency identification skill, media selection skill, objectives preparation skill, and presentation skill. The perception of the importance of all other competencies was significantly different for graduate and undergraduate studies, with importance within graduate studies being perceived as more important in every case.

The competencies that were not considered significantly different as to extent of coverage were computer competence, media selection skill, objectives preparation skill, and presentation skill. The perception of the extent of coverage of all other competencies was significantly different for graduate and undergraduate studies, with graduate studies being indicated as having greater coverage in every case.

The responses for graduate course work indicate that all competencies are important. The responses for undergraduate course work indicate that competencies not perceived as important include: research skill, organization-development theories and techniques, organization behavior understanding, budget and resource management skill, and business understanding. The responses for graduate course work indicate that competencies perceived as important but not adequately covered include: career development theories and techniques understanding, electronic-systems skill, budget and resource management skill, business understanding, organization behavior understanding, organization-development theories and techniques, coaching skill, negotiation skill, and visioning skill. The responses for undergraduate course work indicate that competencies perceived as important but not adequately covered include: adult-learning understanding, competency identification skill, electronic-systems skill, evaluation skill, training and development theories and techniques understanding, coaching skill, feedback skill, group-process skill, negotiation skill, relationship-building skill, data-reduction skill, information-search skill, and visioning skill.

Implications and Recommendations

The results of this study pose at least two important problems. First, the comments provided by respondents reflect a difference of opinion in the field of vocational and technical education as to the relationship between HRD and vocational/technical education. Although it is clear that a number of vocational and technical education programs have been modified to address HRD needs, a difference of opinion among UCVE faculty still exists regarding exactly where and if these two entities (i.e., HRD and vocational/technical education) should intersect. This confusion could possibly account for the decreased level of coverage of some competencies considered important. Although faculty in UCVE institutions indicate that they consider the field of HRD important and the competencies valid, many respondents appear to be uncertain of exactly what their role and/or responsibility should be in integrating the teaching of these competencies and skills into their particular courses. In some cases, leadership appears to be needed to assist educators in sorting out their roles in developing competencies among students who may become HRD practitioners.

Second, while the field of HRD is being given a significant amount of attention, little attention seems to have been given to identification and/or validation of specific competencies for HRD professionals since publication of the HRD competency model in 1989. Instead, literature reviewed for this study revealed that a predominant focus of attention has been on understanding more clearly the primary roles of HRD professionals across the key human resource areas depicted by the human resources wheel. This lack of focus on the competencies for HRD professionals may be an indication that competencies of HRD professionals cannot be redefined until the field is more stable and HRD roles clarified. Or it may simply be an indication that the competencies as defined in 1989 remain adequate.

Results from this study suggest that the competencies identified in 1989 are still important and, therefore, are still an appropriate basis at least for training trainers. However, perceptions of only the academic community were solicited for this study. A broader audience, including representatives from the business community and/or other entities engaged in training for business and industrial settings, might have provided different results regarding importance of the competencies.

The implications for university faculty involved in preparing HRD professionals are nonetheless important. The continuing evolution of the HRD field and the evolving responsibilities and roles of HRD professionals demand that appropriateness of academic preparation be continuously assessed. At the very least, university faculty need to be a part of creative dialogue that addresses what should be taught and how it should be taught. Faculty such as those at UCVE institutions must work with others who prepare and hire HRD professionals to ensure that academic programs are effective. The competencies included in the preparation of HRD personnel must be aligned with traditional and emerging roles of HRD professionals, including trainers.

Because the following skills are currently considered important but less than adequately covered in course work, changes in preparing trainers should focus on at least enhancing the following competencies: adult- learning understanding, career development theories and techniques understanding, competency identification skill, computer competence, electronic-systems skill, evaluation skill, media selection skill, training and development theories and techniques understanding, research skill, organization behavior understanding, organization development theories and techniques, coaching skill, group-process skill, questioning skill, feedback skill, negotiation skill, relationship-building skill, data-reduction skill, and visioning skill.

In addition, course work for graduate studies should give more attention to the cluster of business competencies, which includes budget and resource management skill, business understanding, organization behavior understanding, and organization development theories and techniques. According to the 1997 survey results, course work for undergraduate students should give more attention to technical competencies, interpersonal competencies, and intellectual competencies and should focus less on business competencies.

In light of both the review of literature and the survey results, many competencies are interrelated and important in preparing trainers to work in the current global environment. Graduate courses should focus more on business competencies, and course work at all levels should also address cross-cultural competencies. As part of preparing trainers, internships in business and industry could be required to help meet the need for bridging the gap between theory and practice. Particularly in graduate programs where more business competencies are being called for, these internships could prove to be beneficial learning experiences.

Because perceptions of the importance of the competencies has not diminished, but rather increased, future studies could focus on several considerations:

  1. A new model for competencies of trainers to meet the needs of the more global work place could potentially be designed by building on the 1989 Models for HRD Practice and integrating the variety of competencies discussed during the past few years as pertinent to providing training in cross-cultural settings.
  2. Further research could be conducted, particularly with other professionals outside of UCVE institutions, to examine competencies appropriate for study by undergraduate HRD students and by graduate HRD students, and more structured curricula could be developed to support the development of appropriate competencies.
  3. If it remains the practice to focus on specific competencies of trainers rather than on more broad-based skills, certification of competencies, which is based on more highly structured and more widely accepted course work, could be considered as an option for enhancing the level of expertise in the field of training.

References

Argyris, C. (1994, May). The future of workplace learning and performance. Training and Development, 48(5), pp. 36-47.

Baylen, D. M., Bailey, M. L., & Samardzija, M. (1996). Revisiting perceptions of HRD roles: Implications for HRD curricula. AHRD 1996 Annual Conference Proceedings.

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