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The Way I See It… Training Versus Learning


Lynn Joy of Structured Training explains the differences between training and learning, and advocates an approach that combines both.

Over the past few years there has been a significant shift as organisations have started to realise that the pick and mix, sheep dip approach to people development doesn’t achieve the impact necessary.

Now the talk is of learning, Training Managers have become Learning and Development Managers, Training Departments have moved the same way.

Often the terms learning and training become interchangeable and with a hierarchy being adopted where training becomes secondary to the (perceived) more value-adding process of learning.


Learning focuses on achieving permanent changes in behaviour.

Learning interventions are generally longer term, driven by providing the individual with the opportunity to achieve the changes through personal experience or practice.

Interventions tend to include things like 1-1 coaching and mentoring and 360-degree feedback.

Training focuses on the acquisition of new skills and knowledge with training interventions generally being event driven.

Classroom based workshops and pure play e-learning modules all feature heavily in the training arena.


* Skills development
* Externally applied
* Short term skill uplift
* Equips for known challenges
* Meets current organisational requirements
* Focuses on the group
* Primarily structured
* ‘Doing’

* Behaviour change
* Internally accepted
* Long term change
* Equips for ambiguous future
* Defines organisational future
* Is focused by individuals
* Primarily organic
* ‘Understanding’

However, beyond the differences and definitions of these terms, what most organisations are missing is that it’s not either/or but instead it's about the dynamic combination of learning and training and it is on this I believe all people development should be based.

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