Workforce Development Services: A new framework for providing training and learning support in organizations

UPDATE: I have updated the WDS Framework, see my post From organizing and managing learning to supporting self-organized and self-managed learning

In my last blog post, From Social Learning to Workforce Collaboration, I talked about how I have been helping organisations support workforce collaboration.  Following that post Dan Pontefract asked me this question:

“Is this something that helps an external consultant, like yourself and ITA more so than it does those working inside an organization in a traditional ‘learning’ team?”

This is a great question –  as it allows me now to write a post, about how not only do I think Workforce Collaboration Services are going to be vital in the emerging social business, but how that there are other key services that will be required too.

Based on the work I have done analyzing the use of social media in a professional context and working with organizations who are transitioning to become social businesses, I have developed a Workforce Development Services (WDS) Framework that incorporates 4 key services (as shown in the graphic on the left – note full-size version available in PDF, link below). Here is a very brief explanation of each of them.

1 – Training services –  The need for training services – face-to-face workshops, e-learning, etc will of course remain, but will likely include more social approaches.  However, the opportunities to integrate (and embed) formal training into the workflow as much as possible – through the increased use of social (workplace) systems – intranets and collaborative tools –  will also need to be exploited.

2 – Performance Support Services –  These  services would  focus on supporting access to quick and easy resources by individuals to pull-down whenever they need them to do their job.  This might be achieved through the creation of  (internal) job aids as well as by encouraging the use of external resources (content, tools, networks) on the Social Web.

3 – Workforce Collaboration Services – These services would focus on helping people work collaboratively in teams and groups (as well as more widely across the organization) to encourage and support an ongoing approach to continuous learning and improvement in the workflow. Note, these would not be traditional training services, but would involve the development of a range of collaboration and community skills by “modelling” behaviours.

4 – Performance Consulting Service – These services will focus on identifying the root cause of performance problems and proposing an appropriate solution, which might well be training, but is more likely to be a performance support or workforce collaboration solution. This will be a fundamental service in the WDS Framework as it will serve as the main entry point to the department. In other words, instead of managers coming (to training) with requests for courses, they will (need to) come with requests for help with performance problems.

However, there may well be other entry points directly into other service areas. For example,  Compliance and Regulation might work directly with Training Services, and as businesses transition to social business another entry point might be direct to Workforce Collaboration Services.

Although on the graphic above I showed them as separate services, in reality there will be a high level of overlap in the services provided – particularly between Performance Support and Workforce Collaboration services (as shown in the graphic on the right – note full-size version available in PDF, link below). This also means that although some new service areas will require new skills (social media, community management/leadership, business strategy/processes, etc), not everyone will need to have all the new skills, rather there will remain the opportunity for specalization in the different areas (e.g. for instructional design in the training services area)  but at the same there will be the  ability to make use of new skills to expand/extend the value in each of the distinct areas too.

Furthermore, this framework (unlike the 70:20:10 framework) does not recommend the amount of effort that should be spent in each service area. However, with a Performance Consulting Service in place, it is anticipated that the amount of training organised will likely reduce over time, as other services/solutions are shown to be more effective.

But one important point to reiterate is that Performance Support and Workplace Collaboration services are not “training services” but rather “learning support” services. There is a big difference. So these service areas won’t be about creating and delivering training to people, but helping them extract and value the learning from their daily work activities themselves.

Although some L&D departments are already thinking more about providing “performance support” services, some  might not want to  include Workforce Collaboration services in their repertoire, These will then have to be provided by other parts of the business – IT, or Business Operations, for example. But as there is quite a big overlap with the other areas, it would make sense for them to be included, although, once again, to reiterate, they will require a different approach than training.

Early commentators of the Framework think that it helps to “legitimize” informal learning in the organization, and at the same time shows a way to incorporate new (non-training) approaches into a wider Workforce Development Services Department – where the focus is on helping people to do their jobs – or do them better – and not just on training.

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Jane Hart

Founder at C4LPT
Jane Hart is a Modern Workplace Learning Advisor, Writer and International Speaker. She is the Founder of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies. Her new book Modern Workplace Learning: A Resource Book for L&D is now available, which she supports with a range of online workshops. Find out more about Jane at