Improving the professional skills of learning professionals can only be a good thing and having choice and competition between providers will help to push standards up. It's long been a moan of Learning and Development professionals that CIPD is more focused on HR and less on learning and development. CIPD would claim that they are working to improve this and the arrival of ASTD qualifications which are globally recognised will perhaps focus their minds even more.
The ASTD (American Society for Training & Development) is the world's largest association dedicated to workplace learning and performance professionals and they have just announced four certificate programmes for 2009/10 to be delivered in the UK through The Learning Sanctuary.
A few years ago I had hoped ITOL might provide a credible challenge, but this has failed to develop.
I'm encouraged by the quality of the qualifications on offer through the Learning Sanctuary and at a time when learning budgets are once again under pressure the more effective the leaders and managers of the learning function are the more impact they will be able to have on the performance of their organisation. So now is an ideal time to be investing in new skills and qualifications.
It will be up to the market to decide whether they prefer the CIPD offering, ITOL or the new ASTD qualifications. I think CIPD is excellent, but I'm personally more drawn to the ASTD material and support because of the dedicated learning focus. I had thought I might be put off by the US focus, but actually I've found a more global view than I expected and a way of getting an early view of the trends and ideas that are likely to come to the UK. As far as the qualifications are concerned the team at the Learning Sanctuary have a very strong background in learning in the UK so there should be no concerns there.
If you are thinking of working for a qualification as a learning professional it is certainly worth considering ASTD as a very credible alternative to the CIPD.