No Image Available

Seb Anthony

Read more from Seb Anthony

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

What is the difference between training/learning & development


i am interested in any views to the question of what is the difference between training/learning&development, and how do you make all relevant to your business?
jayne eaton

12 Responses

  1. T&D or L&D?
    This is one of those ‘hornet’s nest’ questions. But, for what it is worth, here is my take on it.
    Training & Development (T&D) is the more long-standing term. It tends to embrace all planned interventions where learning is the primary purpose. Some people mistakenly associate T&D with a course orientated programme that is centrally led. In practice, most modern T&D functions provide advice, tailored and bespoke solutions, and a raft of different learning methods. Courses remain one of the more popular group based methods but e-learning, coaching, Action Learning and so on are all common T&D methods too.
    Learning & Development (L&D) has come in to the vocabulary fairly recently. It tends to reflect a stronger emphasis on learning (which the learner does) rather than training (which a trainer does). Though in my book training should always be learner and learning focussed. One could argue that this is akin to re-branding (in the true sense of the term, not just being about a name change). The image of L&D is being presented as more modern, with more learner-led interventions, stronger links to the workplace and, in some instances, few or no course options.
    In my view T&D is the better term (if you say you work in training people at least know what you mean) but I perfectly understand that in many organisations it can be useful to rebrand the function to mark a shift in approach. Impression management, like it or not, is important.
    Whatever the term you use, the most important aspect is to deliver relevent, high quality, effective learning to the right people at the right time in ways that make a visible and sustained difference to the learners and the organisation. Do this well and nobody will mind what you call yourself!

  2. Maximising learning opportunities
    As a coach and a trainer I understand your predicament.

    Many trainees believe ‘training’ is like going back to school. They are the pupil and the teacher tells them what they should know. They feel that once they have done the course they will have the knowledge to do the job. In some situations this format works but often there is a learning gap which has not been filled.

    In a business environmet a trainer’s role is to facilitate the learning for the trainee for them to use the process for their own development which is managed by a structured programme.

    The trainer/facilitators objective is to find the best way of encouraging learning and tailoring this to the individual and group dynamics.

    Another question to ask is “How can the learning opportunities be maximised in and out of the training room to achieve the developmental requirements of the individual and organisation?”

  3. The critical issue is the philosophy; the label may affect it
    Although I don’t wholly disagree with the other comments, I do think there is a value in making the distinction between training (as the provision of learning opportunities) on the one hand and learning & development (what ‘trainees’ do) on the other. This is because it helps to distinguish responsibilities.

    Employers and training providers have responsibility for making available opportunities for people to learn in ways that maximise the learning. What they can’t do is to make people learn (as Dorothy Parker said, you can lead a whore to culture but you can’t make her think). Learning and developing is what we all do, all the time. Some people make more of a commitment to the process, and the best employers help to support this, but ultimately people are responsible for their own learning and development.

    By talking about training we tend to be focussing on the supply side, and this can make it appear that all that matters is to provide training. It encourages the measurement of performance by how many people attended training courses. By talking about learning and development we put the emphasis on what employees are doing and, most significantly, what they are learning and how much they are development. It is conceivable that an organisation has all its employees attending double the national average days training (ie, about 7 days per year) and yet they learn nothing, whilst another could have no formal training at all and yet have everyone learning and developing through a range of diverse activities.

    What matters is the philosophy that underpins the organisation’s approach to learning and development; labels only matter insofar as they influence people’s attitudes and the extent to which the philosophy is implemented in practice.

  4. Learning Levels
    I feel that there is another dimension that may differentiate training and development.

    Training focuses on short term learning needs. In contrast development focuses on developing long term strategic capabilities.

    So training to write (more efficiently) might focus on how to use word processing software. Developing the ability to write would focus on communication etc.

    Learning is the encompassing term especially as it implies (in my mind) learner focus and the need for the learner to be continuously assessing needs.

  5. input v results
    Training focuses on the deliverer and the input, as teaching does. Learning and development is about the change that is produced in the learner. It emphasises that to produce results, the learner has to do the work.
    Of course, these are just words, but as ever, the words carry hidden implications.

  6. a short approach
    my approach to it is succinct.
    “Training is one way of achieving learning, learning is one way in which people develop.”

  7. Development, Capacity and Learning
    From my years working in developing counties I would like to add the development model which applies in almost all situations.
    “Training and Development” is aimed at building human capacity in order to achieve development. Human capacity is a key outcome of development activities. Capacity is the potential for development and performance is the degree that potential is realized in actual achievement. It takes the form of education, training, experience, knowledge, networks, values etc. Performance builds capacity. Too great a demand for performance can destroy capacity. Empowerment through development builds in two ways, a) Objective empowerment-an individual’s movement from oppression to influence and opportunity. Examples inc. promotion, included in participative management, job enrichment, included in communication networks, offered appropriate reward systems which reinforce powerful behaviour, being exposed to empowering leadership and by belonging to a learning and affirming organisation: and b) Subjective empowerment-“Self-efficacy,” the development of the sense ‘I can’ within the person relative to a specific task or function.

    This summary may have broadened the view for you but hope it helps

    Liam Smith

  8. Semantics
    Training, learning, development and beauty all have one thing in common; they are all in the eye of the beholder. I would think you’ll get a million different answers to this question Jayne, or at least six anyway.

    My view would be that Training is about £500 – £750 per day. Learning perhaps £750 – £1000 per day and Development easily £1000+ per day. This all depends of course on the consultant selling the service. This of course is the essential difference most organisations will experience between these three areas.

  9. Ownership & Committment!
    Hi Jayne,
    Great question! As a trainer / coach, I’ve had reason to think about this aswell. From my expereince, training seems to be viewed as something people have ‘done to them’ and there is little ownership and often even less application of the content. However, learning and devlopment are more on the ‘doing with’ side of the equation and there is a higher degree of ownership and application (and retention!) of the content. I’m also a karate intsructor, in my spare time, and many people turn up every week to the classes. Some come to ‘train’ and their progression is very slow even with extra attention from the instructors. Other people come to learn and develop in their karate and their progression rates are much higher – you can spot those in the class who are ‘learning and developing’ compared to those who are merely ‘training’. In any program or training intervention in business, as a trainer you can spot the difference between ‘trainees’ and the ‘learners and developers’ – its all down to the level of ownership and committment. All the best. Jim

  10. learning’s better
    In addition to being separate from training, I feel that the learning and development are themselves two totally separate things.

    Training is mainly a tool for getting information across in a focused way in a relatively short space of time which the trainee is going to have to utilise at some point further down the line.
    Learning is achieved through ongoing practice using the information gathered from the training as a base. Development comes when the trainee puts the training and learning together and starts to make some progress by themselves.
    How often can anyone say they have REALLY watched a trainee develop through training. It’s what they learn from all of the background work, support and mentoring which helps a trainee develop, not the training itself.

    There’s no point running training without having some way to capitalise on it, or it’s just training for training’s sake and a waste of time and resources. When you’re considering training, you need to consider how relevant and necessary it is to the business/ service at that time, how you’re going to get the trainee’s to learn from it back in the workplace and how they will develop their skills etc through it.

  11. What does it look like?
    ‘Training’ and ‘development’ are abstract words. Attempting to define them
    with other abstract words often produces more heat than light. If we want to
    have any chance of understanding what concrete activities in the world they
    might usefully describe, maybe we could try asking what these words/concepts
    look like.

    For example, Acme Ltd buys a new accounting software package. Their accounts
    department is unfamiliar with it, so Acme commissions an expert ‘trainer’ to
    teach their employees how to use it. This picture of ‘training’ is at the
    extreme end of the learning spectrum. It’s specific and convergent.

    At the other end of the learning spectrum is ‘development’. What does
    ‘development’ look like? In the Visual Thinking workshops I run, for
    example, participants learn how to draw and how to use drawing as a tool for
    thinking and communication. I see this as development, rather than training,
    because the outcomes are clear but open-ended and divergent in a way that
    the Acme outcomes aren’t.

    In this picture of ‘development’, each participant comes with a unique set
    of needs and interests. The learning experience is multi-dimensional. For
    some people, it’s about challenging self-limiting beliefs, for others it’s
    about getting inside the creative process itself.

    Although these two examples are at opposite ends of the same learning
    spectrum, it’s quite possible that the Acme training experience could also
    have profound developmental consequences for individual participants.
    Someone who doesn’t consider herself a good learner may, through a positive
    experience with this training, start to change the way she sees and
    understands herself as a learner. This insight might enable her to take on
    challenges that she once thought beyond her. So even a very clear-cut,
    convergent training experience can have unintended developmental benefits.

    Concrete examples rooted in the everyday world are always richer and more
    complex than the empty containers of abstraction. Concrete or ‘picture
    thinking’ emphasizes difference and uniqueness whereas abstract thinking
    focuses on similarity and typicality. It’s no coincidence that when we
    understand something we often confirm it by saying, ‘I see what you mean.’

  12. Diff Between Training/Dev
    Nadler provides definitions for training, development, and education. While a lot may think this is symantics, if you’re interested in evaluating the impact of your efforts, there’s a big difference. Training is provided for immediate use on the job, so if you’re preparing people for future use, that’s not training. Ex: your company provides safety training. Topic is hygienic preparation of food. All employees go? Not training. The cafeteria staff goes–training. Can you evaluate the use on the job; you can with the cafe people, not the rest of the population. So if you’re asked to provide value to your efforts, you’ll only get your results with the cafe folks. That may be simplistic, but I hope you get the point. Learning is an outcome of some learning activity. I think people use the term “Learning” as a substitute for training because “training” turns them off. Some don’t like the word because it reminds them of dog training; however,the fact remains that many of our training activities come from the behaviorist branch of psychology and if the method works, well, it works.


Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!