Changing roles in Learning & Development
Learning & Development
Company Culture
Future of Learning
April 3, 2023

The correlation between changing roles in L&D

The learning landscape of the modern workplace is undergoing a radical transformation.

Changing times require an adaptive way of enabling people to perform. So it makes sense that traditional roles within the L&D sector are changing too. 

What can we expect over the years to come? Let’s take a look.


  • What does a learning and development specialist do?

  • Types of roles in learning and development

  • Changing roles in L&D

    • IT Manager

    • HR Manager

    • L&D Business Partner

    • Trainer

  • New roles in L&D

What does a learning and development specialist do? 

Whether they are called a training manager, or chief learning officer — at the heart of the role, a learning and development specialist focuses on two key priorities.

  1. Supporting the goals of the organisation – by understanding company strategy and skills requirements and then developing and delivering an appropriate learning strategy
  2. Supporting the learning goals of individual employees – helping employees to become better at their jobs and progress in their careers by supporting them on their personal learning journey

To successfully deliver on the first of these priorities, an L&D leader has to work with stakeholders across an organisation to develop a strategic learning and development programme.

And for the second, they have to understand the science behind why and how people learn in order to create a culture of continuous professional development, where everyone can enjoy engaging, effective learning.

Types of roles in learning and development

There are lots of different roles in learning and development. Typically, your L&D team will consist of the following:

  • Head of Learning and Development

  • Director of Learning and Development

  • Learning and Development Manager

  • Learning Administrator

  • Facilitator

  • Trainer

  • L&D Business Partner

  • Instructional Designer

  • Digital Learning Designer

  • Assessor

All of these different job roles work together to deliver a comprehensive learning and development strategy across the whole of an organisation.

Changing roles in L&D

So that’s what L&D has looked like up to now. But things are changing.

Training is becoming more personalised and informal, with team members able to take the reins on their own learning journeys.

L&D is also becoming more holistic. It exists across the breadth of an organisation, rather than within its own little silo.

This can lead to better learning outcomes. Employees are motivated to learn and have the right resources available to them. And organisations are more strategic in their learning and development investment.

But what does this mean for the L&D team and the roles they have traditionally fulfilled? 

Training roles and responsibilities are changing. Here’s what we can expect from a few key roles.

IT Manager

Learning and development has gone digital.

To really maximise the potential of a digital learning strategy you need an IT specialist —  someone who can develop tech tools, manage learning platforms and deliver a learning experience that keeps employees coming back for more.

But it’s worth bearing in mind that once the necessary structures are in place, people without IT or coding expertise can take on the role of content development. The IT team create the templates which other team members can then use to create engaging digital learning content.

HR Manager

HR Managers are taking responsibility for a range of L&D functions. Increasingly, they are:

  • Promoting a learning culture across the whole of an organisation

  • Using data to analyse skills gaps and engagement with learning content

  • Preparing employees for future responsibilities and taking a long-term view of talent cultivation

  • Working with employees to discover and facilitate their learning and career goals

L&D Business Partner 

L&D Managers are becoming strategic business partners.

They’re working to change entrenched mindsets and are pushing their organisations to embrace a more agile approach to learning and development.

This requires collaboration across the whole of an organisation – and the ability to provide the key insights that convince teams of the need for change.

L&D Managers are also moving away from a learning content provider role. Instead, they are working to curate content provided by outside sources and the topic specialists they already have in-house.

This supports new models of peer-to-peer and self-directed learning.


The role of the trainer is also shifting.

With self-directed eLearning now the norm in many organisations, trainers are rarely expected to stand at the front of a classroom to share information with learners.

Instead, learners get all of the factual info they need from online sources. And trainers act as a guide, directing learners towards the right resources and helping them to discover the significance of what they have learned.

New roles in L&D

L&D has changed dramatically over the past decade, and certainly over the past few years. But more change is yet to come.

The rise of AI will again shift L&D roles. Robots will take responsibility for manual, repetitive tasks of increasing complexity.

In response, the humans within an L&D team will fill the gaps, bringing the social and emotional intelligence, creativity and imagination required to develop a successful L&D programme.


Frequently asked questions FAQ

What is the role of HR in Learning and Development?
The HR team provides a voice for the learning needs of employees. HR professionals get to know employees, the challenges they face in the workplace, and the areas in which they need more support. By sharing this knowledge with the wider learning and development team, the HR team supports employees to get the learning opportunities they want and need.
Why is L&D important?
Learning and development is important to both individual employees and an organisation. Here’s why: - Employees keep their skills up-to-date, which is good for keeping ahead of the competition - A good L&D programme helps to attract top talent and boosts staff retention too - It helps to keep remote teams together - L&D reinforces company culture and values - With L&D, succession planning and talent nurturing becomes much easier - Strategic learning and development helps a business to achieve its wider goals
What is a learning and development strategy?
A learning and development strategy is a plan for developing skills, competencies and knowledge within an organisation in order to achieve long term business objectives.
How do you develop learning and development?
Want to develop L&D at your organisation? To get good ROI, you should aim to do the following: - Motivate and engage employees in your L&D programme - Embed continuous learning and development in your company culture - Focus on both the needs of the individual and the organisation - Invest time and money in L&D - Embrace digital solutions
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