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Seb Anthony

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What’s in a name?


We have noticed that a number of Training and Development Departments have changed their names to 'Learning and Development' and are wondering whether we should do the same in a bid to make a statement that we are not just about training. Before we take it to our Board, we would be interested to know whether any research has been done into this change?
Julie Couchman-Boor

6 Responses

  1. E-learning forces move from training to learning
    I do not know of any actual research to support the change. However, with the advent of e-learning, it is becoming increasingly important for organisations to understand that training is not the same thing as learning. Learning can take place independently of training and what is learned is more important than what is trained. Learning should be embedded in the organisational culture – one would not expect this of training which is an event rather than a process. Hope this helps – good luck!

  2. Its a cultural thing
    Pretty simple really. The word training has different connotations in the US than it has in Europe. Therefore the Americanisation of the description has tended to take more precedence recently.

  3. Learners taking control
    This has been very prevalent in Australia also – and behind it is a new emphasis on the learner taking responsibility for their own development.
    I think that the change is largely due to trainers considering themselves not merely as presenters, but as facilitators of learning. This implies that there is more responsibility on trainers for providing learning opportunities that are effective, relevant and meaningful for learners and the business. It also recognises that learning can directly and indirectly impact the effectiveness of learners back in the workplace.
    Simon Weller – Learning & Development Coordinator (Mazda Australia)

  4. Focus on Outcomes
    People become tired of names after a while and different organisations don’t want to follow the pack and name their sections the same as others – so they stand out. Thus, departmental names change.

    Central to these changes in Australia I feel are two factors: more focus on learners and focus on outcomes rather than inputs and outputs. Most governments in Oz now use an accrual accounting system aligned more with outcomes. The outcome from training is learning – and hopefully better performance. Thus we see more titles including learning and performance eg, the Performance Improvement Department (training, development, occupational health, quality assurance etc).

    Training is something you DO to people; Learning is something that people attain, it’s all a matter of perceptions and wanting to be different from the pack.

  5. The times they are a changin’
    The answer is quite simple really it is just another one of those crazy “fads” we go through or new buzz words we inherit. Although I agree there are slight differences in Learning and Training when it comes to the naming of a dept. I don’t think it matters too much.

    For example how long ago was it when we had personnel depts, now dubbed Human resources. A dustbin man is now an environmental waste disposal operative ! At the end of the day the name is not important ,as we all know how misleading names can be, but the quality of the service / product that you are providing.

  6. It’s the learner who matters
    I suspect that the root of the change is the growing emphasis on self-education, especially by individual study of web-based material. There is also, perhaps, a certain feeling that ‘training’ is not the best word to use to a knowledge worker. It has connotations of army drills and dog obedience school.

    I thoroughly approve of the change. It reminds us that the important person is the one doing the learning. It also sounds like a less passive experience for the person acquiring new skills.


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