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Press Release

ATD Releases Talent Development Capability Model

Published Wed Jan 08 2020


(Alexandria, VA), January 8, 2020—The Association for Talent Development’s latest research to measure the pulse of the profession culminated with today’s release of the Talent Development Capability Model, a framework to guide TD professionals on the knowledge and skills they need to develop themselves, others, and their organizations.

“The new model underscores how specialized knowledge about how to create, deliver, foster, and measure learning is essential to TD’s ability to boost the potential of our learners and deliver value to the organizations we serve,” says Courtney Vital, associate vice president of education at ATD.


n late 2018—for the ninth time in 41 years—ATD set out to define talent development (TD) today and to create concrete career paths for TD professionals with roles and levels into the next five years. More than 3,000 practitioners from 73 countries (23 percent of respondents were from outside the United States) evaluated the importance of 197 competencies for successful job performance now and in the future, and those results became the basis of the model. The survey was the largest ever completed on behalf of competency model research.

Noted in its accompanying book Capabilities for Talent Development, the research confirms that talent development is no longer simply focused on the tactical aspects of the design and delivery of learning. Instead, the TD field has become a key element in the success and competitive advantage of organizations, making its practitioners essential partners with all areas of a business in achieving organizational goals. Key business trends that inform how talent development must approach its work include:

• digital transformation and disruption

• innovation and adaptability

• contingent or gig workforce


• demographics of workers.

The latest research captured the major shifts in society and the larger business landscape since the previous model was published. The major changes in the TD field were identified through a comprehensive literature review, expert practitioner interviews, and advisory panel discussions. These trends spanned a variety of areas in business, technology, learning, science, and the profession itself.

“Talent development complements and supplements other organizational functions to prepare and enable the workforce to achieve the strategic aims of the business,” says Tony Bingham, president and CEO of ATD. “Talent development clearly owns specific functions in their direct execution (such as training, performance improvement, and career development), but it also influences the broader talent management and HR ecosystem (such as talent acquisition, selection, succession planning, engagement, and performance management). It is this combination of owning and influencing that establishes a strategic framework for talent development professionals to grow their own capabilities and increase the value they bring to their work.”

Previously, ATD published competency models. This new model highlights capabilities over competencies.

“Competence refers to having the knowledge and skills necessary to perform a job. It remains integral to performance and is one element of capability; however, capability is about adapting and flexing to meet future needs,” according to Capabilities for Talent Development. “ATD’s focus has broadened to helping TD professionals build capability that will not only help them be competent performing their work today, but also prepared for challenges they’ll face in the future.”


The new Capability Model is structured around three domains of practice, which include 23 capabilities:

  • that derive from interpersonal skills (Building Personal Capability)

  • that come from building professional knowledge related to developing people and helping them learn (Developing Professional Capability)

  • that affect an organization’s ability to drive toward results and mission success (Impacting Organizational Capability).

Capabilities for Talent Development offers an in-depth look at the model and its components, drawing from the research behind it. Inside are application tips for individuals, educators, and organizations as well as examples and interviews with thought leaders that describe an exciting future ahead for the talent development field.

Learn more about ATD’s new Talent Development Capability Model at td.org/capability-model.

Capabilities for Talent Development: Shaping the Future of the Profession

ISBN: 9781947308893 | 128 Pages | Paperback, PDF


To order books from ATD Press, call 800.628.2783.

About ATD

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is the world’s largest professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees, improve performance, and help to achieve results for the organizations they serve. Originally established in 1943, the association was previously known as the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD).

ATD’s members come from more than 120 countries and work in public and private organizations in every industry sector. ATD supports talent development professionals who gather locally in volunteer-led U.S. chapters and international member networks and with international strategic partners.

For more information, visit td.org.

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