Is Training the Same as Learning and Development?

March 29, 2022

In over 16 years of my career, I have heard people use the term “training” and “learning and development (L&D)” interchangeably. If you struggle and have struggled to explain the difference between these terms, then you are not alone. I was once like you and there are still so many out there. The ability to understand and comprehend the difference between training and learning and development made a whole lot of difference for me. Are you a learning and development specialist, an HR professional, or a business leader understanding the difference would go a long way in ensuring your organization achieve its business objectives in a more efficient and effective way?

For a moment pause and reflect is training really the same as learning and development?

My write-up today is to inform you that though you have used or often heard the terms training and learning and development used interchangeably there is a difference between these terms.

Let us explore training vs. learning and development in more detail.

Training is an activity that is concerned with teaching and transferring specific skills. It is an instructor-led, content-based intervention designed to lead to skills or behavior changes. The training aims to teach the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that could be used in a specific job. There are diverse ways this can be achieved. Such as online programs, e-learning, in-house workshop, open training programs, or expert instructors at an off-site training center.

Learning and Development encompasses a set of activities designed by an organization to develop and improve the skills and competencies of its employees to enable it to achieve its set business objectives. It is a total presentation of the various ways an organization can empower its employees to achieve its set objectives. This could take the place of training, coaching, mentoring, job shadowing, learning management system (LMS), learning experience platform (LXP), certifications, and massive online open courses (MOOC) – self-directed learning.

From the two definitions above we can see that training is not learning and development rather training is a part of learning and development.

As I researched, I came across a quote in the book Helping People Learn Strategies for Moving from Training to Learning by J. Reynolds “learning is the process by which a person constructs new knowledge, skills, and capabilities, whereas training is one of the several responses an organization can undertake to promote the learning”. So, training is just one of the ways an organization can carry out learning. It is therefore not the same as learning and development. Rather it is a component of learning and development amidst other components that make up learning and development.

I have explored the key difference between training and learning and development. Another point to note is why do this difference explored above matters? It matters because it opens one’s mind to understand that training is not the panacea to developing your employees. There are other ways to engage in developing your employees. For example, there are occasions when coaching and job shadowing, or mentoring and certifications (as opposed to training) would be the most appropriate activity to be deployed for an employee which can result in numerous benefits to the business, including an increase in team morale and engagement, improved retention, and an increase in customer satisfaction and sales.

The OSF Ratio a Training Industry concept that is like the 70:20:10 model created by three researchers Morgan McCall, Michael Lombardo, and Robert Eichinger in 1980 can be used as a guide to identifying the components best suited for your employee.

To sum up

We have been able to identify the clear difference between training and learning and development. And have discovered that there are other ways other than training by which employees can develop, improve, and enhance their skills and competencies to achieve the organizational goals.



Image by Peggy_Marco on Pixabay