Tracing the historical development of the HRD function, we found that both practitioners and academics have contributed to the ongoing debates surrounding its different agendas. The field of HRD has moved far away from just simple training of employees in particular skills for current roles, to something much more complex where many different types of intervention have become the norm. Several key specialist areas of staff development have evolved such as coaching and mentoring, and leadership development, with an increasing emphasis on the employee managing their own development within certain parameters set by the employing organization. At the same time many different types of tools have evolved to support the delivery of this development including those which are part of the digital revolution.

An overriding theme across whatever delivery modes are used, and whatever type of intervention is adopted, is the need to ensure that fair and equitable opportunities for growth are provided, in line with legislative requirements. Given the increasing trend in the age profile of many organizations towards employing older staff, as outlined further in Chapter 3, it is not surprising that employers need to pay real attention to what types of development are appropriate and bring the best results, both for the employee and the employer.

The push towards accepting HRD as a key part of organizational strategy and how that is delivered, whether transformational change is part of that process or not, has ensured that current agendas are now concerned with the value of staff, their contribution to organizational life, and how they can improve what they do as organizational members. Where a strategy for HRD is to be devised and used then those responsible ie the HRD professionals will need to be aware of the environment in which they are operating and where and how key influences need to be observed and taken into account accordingly. If such a strategy is to include good practices around the employment and development of an aging workforce, particular consideration will be required of the legislative frameworks under which organizations operate. These issues are explored in more detail in the chapters that follow.


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