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  Changing role of HRD professionals (from trainer to consultant)
   
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  The role of HRD professionals is changing from trainer to consultant. Their strategic role is to link HRD closely to business; their practical role is to provide learning opportunities for employees [R08].

Training in organisations is no longer an isolated activity for which training professionals alone are responsible. It has been given a strategic function. Training professionals are expected to be instrumental in setting up learning processes that are in line with the strategic policy and, moreover, ensuring that this is done in a cost conscious and effective manner. It is proving difficult for training professionals to strike a balance between the interests of the organisation on the one hand and the interests of individual employees on the other [V16]. 

Various differences in the role of HRD professionals across Europe have been identified:
(a)
The historical role and development of HR professionals varies considerably across Europe, as do their career paths. In the UK a strong professional body representing both HRM and HRD practitioners regulates initial  training. Elsewhere in Europe this does not happen, and HR professionals can undergo very different training [R12].
(b)
A diversity of roles, corresponding to the diversity of the HRD field itself, is perceived by HRD practitioners in different countries. The roles range from change agent, instructor, programme designer and manager, to coach, reflective developer, consultative communicator. The related areas of competence include interaction, information analysis, organisation, and learning processes [R10]. 
(c)
The anticipation of training related developments varies between HRD professionals in the Nethelands and their counterparts in the USA. The Dutch group, to a greater extent than the American one, expect less emphasis on traditional training concepts, more self-guided learning and team learning, and more employee responsibility; both groups are equal in expecting a shift from isolated skill building to performance improvement [R16].
(d)
The development of mentoring in companies, as one of the HRD practitioners' roles, is assumed to be influenced by different cultural contexts in Europe. In accordance with the criteria advanced by Hofstede, mentoring is more suited to countries with low power distance and a high tolerance for uncertainty. Multi-national organisations might provide a significant trigger for the spread of mentoring across Europe, either because of exposure to schemes via international placements or because of benchmarking activities through conferences [R11] [R15].

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Editor: Sabine Manning  © WIFO