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Learning needs vs Training Needs


What do you consider to be the difference between the 2 above?

I've considered the obvious (dyslexia, colour blindness, etc) but was interested in what other opinions were.

Additionally, does anyone know of any internet resources I can use as a first step for research into it?

Many thanks,
Andrew Jacobs

9 Responses

  1. Learning needs
    At the risk of stating the obvious (but a different ‘obvious’ to yours?), learning needs are the things you needs to learn and training needs are those that lend themselves to being best addressed by training.
    On my first day at work I was nervous and needed to learn where the toilets were, but I didn’t need training. There are many things we learn outside of training – in the workplace perhaps two thirds or more. Some we learn organically and others through some form of planned learning.
    I am not sure where the issues you mention – such as dyslexia – come in. Perhaps you are taking a different perspective. If so, I think you might be as well to clarify things further so you get the type of advice you are after.

  2. Let’s think about sex …
    Whilst most parents would support the idea of sex education in schools, to satisfy their children’s learning needs on the subject, few would see the necessity for sex training!

    The key difference is that training addresses specific performance, whereas learning may find expression in an unspecified range of different behaviours.

    For some useful introductory material, see Don Clark’s site:

  3. Clarification
    “learning needs are the things you needs to learn and training needs are those that lend themselves to being best addressed by training”

    My question is based more on considering the needs of the learner over and above the ‘normal’ learner states (e.g. activist, reflector, theorist).

    It’s more about what identifying what support the trainer can provide to learners that may not have been inedtified by the usual TNA techniques.

  4. Learning v Training
    I agree with Graham, in that learning tends to apply to knowledge acquisition – and happens every day (I hope); training to a specific skill (which will almost certainly include new knowledge too, and therefore some learning!) but for adults implies a more purpose-degined activity and very specific outcomes.

    I might ‘learn’ about using Access, for eg, but I need ‘training’ to use it for what I want to properly!

    So you might add ‘motor-skills’ and even ‘interpersonal-skills’, ‘judgement’ and much more to be trained in many cases – but that does depend on the application/topic!

    In summary, the difference between ‘competence’ (knowledge and understanding – eg as in NVQs) and ‘competency’ (personal skills, qualities, behaviours etc – eg as in ‘being an excellent sales person’)?

    This won’t help your quest I fear Andrew, but have you also considered a much more useful difference between ‘training’ and ‘development’ (in my view!)?

    I hope that doesn’t sound a tease!

    Best wishes


  5. Share and share alike

    What a great question!

    One thing I would highlight is rapport, not in the sense of having a nice touchy-feely interaction but in the sense of the trainer deliberately putting him/herself into a LEARNING state before commencing training.

    If you are at all familiar with NLP, it includes strongly adopting perceptual positions 2 and 3: noticing how you appear to your audience and noticing what is happening between you and your audience.

    Many years ago (honest!) I was delivering a presentation on relational databases. At the end of the presentation someone asked what the point was of storing information this way. So I briefly recapped the merits of relational databases.

    “But why store the information that way?” this person asked again. So I recapped my comparison of relational databases with the other two most popular forms of computer database.

    I could see this still hadn’t answered the question, but the questioner let it drop and the discussion moved on.

    I subsequently discovered that I had missed the point because I was up at “trainer/expert” level, whereas the question was coming from “learner” level.

    All they actually wanted to know – very reasonably, I realised – was “Why bother to use a computer database AT ALL?”

    Hope this helps

    Be well

    Andy B.

  6. Learning is for the individual, Training is for the organisation

    If you are looking for debate around the contrasting meanings of ‘training’ and ‘learning’ then try the Philosopy of Education Society of Great Britain’s website (it comes up if you search for it on Google)as a starting point.

    You might like to try the Informal Education website (this comes up on Google as well), the first part of the address is http://www.infed. but I can’t remember whether it is .com/ after that.

    As for ‘Training’ versus ‘Learning’. I would suggest that ‘Training’ is what the job / organisation defines as the knowledge and skills required to perform a given role or task. It uses the requirements of the role or task to define what the learner needs to do and know. It is externally or criterion referenced. ‘Learning’ on the other hand defines what the learner needs to know by refering to their individual needs, not the organisation’s. It is therefore self referenced or ipsative.

    I’m not sure if this is the line you are taking though. Apologies if it is not.

    Alex Paterson

  7. Learning is internal

    You seem to be talking about working in a “learner-centred” way.
    For me training needs are usually summarised by objectives for a course or programme – and will define the new knowledge, skill or attitude which will be achieved after the training “event”. They apply equally to all on the “event” and training is something planned that is “done to you”.
    Learning is an internal process which is summed up nice and simply by Kolb’s learning cycle. Every trainer/facilitator should help individuals go through that cycle. That can mean one-to-one support during and after the event. People will learn at their own pace and will take different conclusions from the same set exercises. That is the beauty (and the challenge)if you want them to learn the same things!

    As for internet, try the Training Journal site


  8. Thanks
    Thank-you one and all.

    I had a number of reasons posing this question.

    1. As a group of professionals we are defined by our job title. How could it appear to those we ‘train’?

    2. If we have to define what we do, is it difficult to establish what people get as a result of spending time with us (i.e. learning)?

    3. I was looking for a consensus of opinion – and got more variations than I ever expected!

    I find it interesting that this question has been viewed 800 times – and that there are so few responses. I wonder why…


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