Contemporary Developments in Human Resources Development

Traditional Approaches to Human Resource Development (HRD)

The major focus of conventional HRD practices is centered on the learning and performance viewpoints. The learning model postulates that learning is fundamental in the augmentation of personnel development and growth as well as capabilities (Lane, 2009). On the other hand, the performance paradigm asserts that human resource development is critical in the training and advancement of workers to realise the objectives of the firm including maximum performance, increased productivity as well as profitability.

The Learning Model of HRD

The learning model of Human Resources development (HRD) is one of the areas that have been widely applied by convention human resources development programs (Lane, 2009). From the perspective of the learning, human resources development is an area of study and practice in charge for encouraging long-term work-related learning capacity at group, individual and organisational levels (Gruman & Saks, 2011). In other words, the main role of human resources development is to increase the learning capabilities of individuals.

In addition, human resource development is supposed to help groups rise above obstacles that prevent the learning processes. At the organisation level, human resources development provides a framework that generates a background in which conscious learning is based (Buckley & Caple, 2005).

Essentially, the learning paradigm of HRD postulates that the main rationale of HRD is to promote individual progress, improvement and capabilities through learning. Besides, the development of the individual potential is fundamental not only for the improvements of the individual but also for the attainment of the organisational goals (Lane, 2009).

The assumption that education, growth, learning and development are inherently good for the individual forms the core of the learning model. In fact, the basis of the assumption emphasises on the individual actualisation and remains critical for to all HRD practices. Significant to the model is the premise that employees should be valued for their worth. In other words, employees should not be perceived merely as resources that help in the attainment of the desired outcome (Buckley & Caple, 2005).

Performance Model of HRD

The model postulates that the instrumental role of HRD is to train and develop employees to attain planned intentions. Essentially, obtaining the desired objectives is the means through which productivity and profitability are maximised. In fact, the performances of employees are measured by the level of output (Lane, 2009).

The performance model holds that the main reason for HRD is to advance the mission of the organisation through improving the efforts and capabilities of employees. By improving the efforts and capabilities of the personnel, the performance of the organisation automatically improves (Lane, 2009).

One of the major assumptions of the performance paradigm is that the organisation must perform in order to exist. As such, individuals that work within the organisation must also perform for the organisation to prosper. In addition, employees must also perform in order to advance their career and maintain their job statuses (Buckley & Caple, 2005).

From this perspective, there is no alternative for organisations and employees rather to perform. Therefore, the ultimate purpose of HRD is to improve the performance of the organisation in which it form part and provides resources that support its functions (Buckley & Caple, 2005).

The HRD models are essential in professional, management and leadership development. For instance, according to the performance model, the primary outcome of the Human resource development is not only learning but also performance (Anderson, 2010). In other words, organisations evaluate individual employees in terms of output, which is the attainment of the organisation goals.

Thus, professionalism is defined based on the capability of attaining the desired outcome of the organisation (Buckley & Caple, 2005). Essentially, the level of professional training is based on the practical procedures that result in accomplishing the result. Individual employees focus their professionalism depending on the capabilities of attaining the desired outcome of the organisation.

Similarly, the management and leadership capabilities of the individuals are measured by the level of outcomes. As such, management and leadership skills remain within the precincts of performance outcomes (Buckley & Caple, 2005). Therefore, organisational training in leadership and management focuses on how managers and leaders should motivate employees towards attaining the desired outcome. In addition, organisations will fund management and leadership programs aimed at attaining the main objectives of the firm.

On the other hand, learning model focuses on the development and growth of the individual potential. Since the individual inherently emphasises growth, learning and developments, employees only pursue professions that enhance their fulfilment (Anderson, 2010).

Moreover, management and leadership become useful to the organisations when the individuals derive some level of satisfaction (Buckley & Caple, 2005). The emphasis of the model on individual development enables organisations to provide reasonable time for individual training on management and leadership as well as pursuit for a professional career (Anderson, 2010).

Implications for Traditional Approaches of the Developments in Critical HRD Research and Writing

Due to the increasing convolutions involved in the management of personnel characterised by reciprocated reliance of various firms, conventional approaches to HRD have to be reinvented to suit the current needs of the present day advancements in human resource development (Buckley & Caple, 2005).

In other words, the functions as well as the ways in which current business systems have greatly changed and radical revolution in the roles and importance of personnel are critical (Gruman & Saks, 2011). Currently, debates have emerged about the scope of corporations’ obligations. Critics argue that the responsibilities of HRD should not only focus on the value of shareholders but also promote corporate accountability beyond the shareholders to the society.

Actually, the operations of current business firms are characterised by recurrent expertise revolution, dynamical transformation as well as changes in proprietary relationships. Therefore, innovative and quality human resources are indispensable in the success of business organisations. Essentially, the highly competitive market calls for paradigm shift in the manner employees are developed (Gruman & Saks, 2011).

Most importantly, firms must embrace organised, regular learning and development among the personnel to gain competitive edge over other enterprises in the market. Additionally, organisations nowadays consider knowledge, cooperation and innovation as significant aspects in the management of firms. As such, current human resource managers often update employee knowledge on the current trends regularly as a replacement for the existing knowledge (Anderson, 2010).

The reason is that the dynamics of human resource training and development are becoming multifaceted making acquired knowledge through training and development to be outdated (Gruman & Saks, 2011). In principle, organisations must develop creative and problem-solving personnel to augment output. Moreover, critical HRD focuses significantly on HRD curriculum and pedagogical methods focusing on power and emotions.

Generally, empowerment of employees through training and development, performance appraisal and fair recruitment and selection processes is significant for the success of firms since empowerment augments output, service quality as well as decision-making processes. Critical HRD research and writing argues for the empowerment of employees from iconoclastic and emancipatory perspectives.

The former enables the division of the principal performance-oriented function of HRD practices and the acknowledgment of accurate rationale of HRD thereby occasioning employee advancement in an organisation (Anderson, 2010).

On the other hand, the latter perspective enables action learning that permits immediate actions from personnel. In other words, the application of various understandings concerning the operations of firms as abstractions arising from interactions among individual interactions and collective actions are essential parts of human resource development.

Definition of HRD

Based on the two traditional approaches to HRD above, human resource development can be defined as a process that deals with the development of personnel aptitudes through training, experimental learning as well as performance appraisal to improve the performance of human resources (Anderson, 2010). Essentially, human resource development is a critical aspect in training and development of personnel along with performance evaluation of employees.

To begin with, HRD is applied in performance analysis to completely advance the capabilities of personnel as well as augment communication pertaining to employee output. In reality, organisations use HRD to evaluate the requirements of employees pertaining to training and development thereby enabling employees to grow their job careers.

Additionally, HRD focuses on the operations that develop the contemporary output of employees as well as prepare the personnel for challenges in their jobs and career development (Gruman & Saks, 2011). Additionally, HRD is essential in the development of skilled human resources as well as the creation of prospects for career development. In other words, through various trainings and development programs, HRD provides employees with skills and competencies relating to job requirements (Buckley & Caple, 2005).

Besides, HRD is significant in enabling employees comprehend career development breaks through ensuring appropriate configuration between training and development prospects with personnel requirements. Moreover, performance improvement is another outcome of HRD practices since human resource development cultivates the required skills and capabilities of personnel as well as identifies the performance gaps in production (Buckley & Caple, 2005).

Application of HRD in Informing and Shaping National Policies on Vocational Education and Training (VET)

Vocational Education and Training (VET) plays critical roles concerning the education and training programme policies of a country. In other words, in order to stimulate economic development and growth in nations, several governments and other agencies often invest directly as well as encourage indirect investment in human capital. The governments and agencies invest in human capital through the provision of education and training (Lane, 2009).

Human resource development is critical in informing and shaping up national policies on VET in numerous ways. For instance, in the latter part of the 19th century, poor standards of workforce in Britain led to absence competitiveness. As such, significant stress on training personnel was augmented.

The achievement of efficient results is positively linked to the competencies of human resources. HRD has been instrumental in enabling governments devise training schemes that produce competent and proficient personnel. For example, during the First World War, production of arms was in high demand. As such, the ministry responsible for Munitions had to train competent personnel to operate the war machines. Further, HRD is also critical in devising schemes aimed at poverty alleviation.

For instance, the Interrupted Apprentice scheme enabled apprenticeships affected by First World War to recommence. Besides, the UK government’s training schemes for unemployed women and girls was to alleviate long-standing joblessness (Lane, 2009). Moreover, HRD was critical in the creation of the National Council for Vocational Qualifications (NCVQ) in 1987 and the Youth Opportunities Programme (YOP) in 1978 to offer work experience, training and work preparation courses to jobless school leavers.

The development of employees’ proficiencies and expertise are significant components of human resource development. The UK government in particular has skills strategy White Paper of 2003 that lays down the provisions ensuring that workers are acquainted with the necessary proficiencies invaluable in the success of firms where they work.

Comparing the Implications of HRD for Current VET policy in the UK, Germany and France

The United Kingdom (UK)

The system of employer vocational education and training in the UK is voluntarism. In the system, the employers have the discretion of training or not training the personnel and there are minimal legal requirements. Actually, in the approach, the demand and supply sides of the market operate without the intervention of the state (Lane, 2009). Essentially, the market-based system is flexible. Additionally, the applications of ideological and political constraints concerning policies are insignificant in the system.

In the system, employees are supported to identify the needs relating to expertise and bond such skills to business goals. In the UK, core to businesses training are increased productivity as well as the provision of personnel with skills and proficiencies that enhance organisational performance. Continuous change in technology is a major challenge in the UK since businesses have to shape up the nature and demand for expertise frequently.

Another challenge arises from increasing proportion of aging workers who receive insignificant employer-funded training. Besides, the system of voluntarism leads to extremely disjointed structures of institutions (Addison & Siebert, 2007). In the market-oriented model in the UK, vocational training is majorly the obligation of enterprises. Moreover, there is lack of enough training institutions that are external to firms. Therefore, short-term employer requirements are the major drivers of training.


In Germany, the approach to VET is the dual system. The system focuses on the general education as well as education and training. In the approach, apprentices are offered with planned work-based training along with institutional studies. Further, the system advocates for communal obligations in the organisation and management of the approach between employers and trade unions (Lane, 2009). Moreover, employer-led cooperation is another approach to VET in Germany for adults.

In the approach, the existences of strong employer networks and strong employee representation are critical for the success of the provision of vocational education and training. The absence of methods aimed at supporting trainers to deliver education in convenient and moveable expertise is a major limitation of the dual approach.

Under the dual approach, tripartite resolve of the content of training and education by the personnel and enterprises enables national recognition of certified expertise for apprentices. Further, the existence of social partnerships concerning bargains for vocational training in the dual system leads to highly qualified workforce (Addison & Siebert, 2007). In reality, Germany has the most qualified and proficient personnel across Europe with approximately over sixty percent qualified.


In France, the VET system is state-controlled. In the system, vocational educational and training is managed by educational institutions. Besides, in the system, employment is not guaranteed in the skilled jobs for qualified young people. Additionally, core to the operations of state-controlled VET is to execute of government policies.

Most importantly, the state often provides vocational education and training to generate engineers and administrators. Actually, VET training in France is under-developed due to weak labour unions (Lane, 2009). Essentially, the influence of collective bargaining institutions on VET is insignificant.

Generally, critical divergences exist in the perspectives of vocational education and training in the UK, Germany and France. To begin with, considering the locus, VET in the UK and Germany is centered on the workplace. Nonetheless, in France VET is education-led and is centered in educational institutions. Regarding guidelines and directives, the government is responsible for the regulation of VET in Germany and France. On the other hand, the market regulates VET in the UK.

Considering the involvement of collective bargaining institutions such as trade unions, Germany has effective labour unions that are effective and increasingly being involved in sector VET (Addison & Siebert, 2007). Trade unions in France are marginalised, weak and divided and have no influence on VET. On the other hand, the UK has voluntary, informal and decentralised collective bargaining institutions.

In terms of focus, both Germany and France have long –term focus on vocational education and training whereas the UK system of VET has short-term focus centered on work perspective. Regarding social dialogue, Germany embraces social partnership since it produces effective and efficient structures.

As such, the competitiveness and job security of personnel are improved through the enhancement of skills (Addison & Siebert, 2007). In France, the school-led system makes the trade unions weak and highly divided. As such, effective social dialogue is militated against.

Recommendations for Changes to Current UK VET Policy

The voluntarism approach to VET in the UK should emphasise on bendable and adjustable training services. For instance, the employers should not have the central responsibility of determining the occupational strictures on which the vocational certifications are centered (Lane, 2009).

Essentially, legitimate work-based training that leads to nationally recognised certifications are critical. In other words, the national VET policies should focus on the needs of the clients as opposed to provision of training just to meet the short-term requirements of the market.

Long standing and effective governance as well as the maintenance of exceptional associations between the government and the collective bargaining institutions are critical for the triumph of vocational education and training initiatives.

Actually, inclusivity, transparency and accountability in the design and structure of VET policies are essential (Lane, 2009). Further market intelligence and research on VET should be undertaken by the UK. In reality, when credible information on VET lacks, businesses and individuals are unable to make optimal choices concerning education and training.

Additionally, the UK vocational education and training policies should concentrate on improving the expertise and skills of individuals at the basic, lower and intermediate skill levels. Besides, the application of better working practices and innovative business tactics are significant in the stimulation of the demand of skills in the workplace (Lane, 2009). Moreover, the UK should redefine its approaches to VET to counter the slow increase in the demand of skills, which can lead to over-supply, as well as deficient demand in the future.


Addison, J. & Siebert, W. (2007). Vocational training and the European community. Oxford Economic Papers, 46(3), 696-724.

Anderson, L. (2010) “Talking the talk”: A discursive approach to evaluating management development. Human Resource Development International, 13(3), 285-298.

Buckley, R. & Caple, J. (2005). The theory and practice of training. London: Kogan Page.

Gruman, J. A. & Saks, A. M. (2011). Performance management and employee engagement. Human Resource Management Review, 2(1), 123–136.

Lane, C. (2009). Management and labour in Europe: the industrial enterprise in Germany, Britain and France. Aldershot: Edward Elgar.