Training versus Learning & Development

Training Versus Learning and Development

Edited By:  Aniket Sawant

In this fast-paced, technologically advanced business world, it is quintessential to understand how your business is affected by external and as well as internal factors. Identifying and analyzing these key functional distinctions can improve decision-making and positively impact the business in the long run. To leverage this opportunity, it is important to spot the difference between training and learning & development and learn how it can impact your business. 

Training is about the organization. Learning and development are about the individual.  In the last few years, research and development have led to firms realizing that knowledge and capability needs cannot be met just by sending employees to training courses. Often the terms ‘training’ and Learning and Development (‘L&D’) are used interchangeably. They are, however, quite distinct. In his book, helping people learn: strategies for moving from training to learning, J. Reynolds states “learning is the process by which a person constructs new knowledge, skills, and capabilities, whereas training is one of several responses an organization can undertake to promote learning”.   

By implementing training, people focus on the values or skills that are being supplied or taught. Organizations gain very little by sending an employee to train and updating their checklist. It can be compared to an event that has no significant impact on the development of the individual but is recorded as a development or a gain for the organization. No wonder employees don’t typically enjoy or queue up for training. But when we discuss learning and development, we emphasize what employees are doing, most importantly what they are learning and how much they are developing. Collecting feedback from employees on their professional and personal growth can pave the way to devising strategies that lead to discovering their true hidden potential.  Many employees believe training is like going back to school – they are the students, and the teacher stands up in front of them dictating what they should know. There is also a misconception by both employers and employees that once someone has attended a training course, they have the skills and knowledge to do the job. In some situations, this format may work however generally there is a learning gap as each individual has a unique grasping capability that goes unaccounted for in such cases.  

One can’t deny the fact that some organizations have mandatory training sessions. For example, workplace health and safety, telephone procedures, machinery use, etc. Yes, the training is crucial in such jobs but that is not what contributes to the overall outcome. It is the ability of an individual to apply the knowledge gained in the training sessions. Hence, it is necessary to understand if your employees have actually learned something from attending the training sessions. The word ‘learning’ in the term learning and development is significant. It suggests that people are driving their own development through relevant experience, beyond work-related skills, knowledge, and processes. Learning extends the idea of personal development (and thereby organizational development) to beliefs, values, wisdom, compassion, emotional maturity, ethics, integrity, and most important of all, their unique individual potential. 

L&D is a continuous process that leads to the development of the knowledge and skills to ensure an employee’s ability and potential growth through the provision of learning experiences or through self-directed (self-managed) learning to prepare them for greater or higher-level responsibilities in the future.

To sum up

  •      Training refers to inserting skills into people, whereas we should be developing individuals from the inside out so that they can realize their true potential.

  • Training is a mundane chore that employees are paid to do. Learning is quite different and bonds well with the employees—People respond to appropriate learning because they choose to and because it not only benefits or interests them but also helps them to grow and develop natural abilities

  •       L&D puts the onus back onto the individual rather than on the organization that is focusing only on its training sessions.

It is important to remember that whilst employers have the responsibility of providing opportunities for employees to learn in ways that maximize their potential development, you can’t make people learn. As the saying goes – you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Ultimately each one of us is responsible for our own learning and development. Learning and development is often a matter of mindset; individuals, organizations, and society can build a future that ensures growth—an effective strategy that resonates with more ways to continually learn, grow, and achieve development goals.


 Read the full article: “Training versus Learning and Development”  


                                                    Aniket Sawant| Junior Human Resource Coordinator at PARKER HR Solutions.

Aniket holds a Mechanical Engineering degree and a Master’s in Administrative Science- HR Administration with his eclectic experience in verticals like Human Resources, Marketing, and Operations; he is on a mission to blend his technical skills with human capital management to attain holistic development and achieve organizational goals.


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