What is the difference between training and learning and development?

Share this page

Written by Tim Baker on 4 September 2014

Reading time: 2 minutes.

The fundamental difference between training and learning and development is that the later takes a multi-dimensional approach to human resource development (HRD). Training, on the other hand, is one-dimensional and based essentially on what has been referred to as the 'production-centred' approach.

The 'person-centred' and 'problem-solving' approaches are generally missing from traditional HRD programmes. The traditional employment relationship performance orientation is based almost exclusively on directly developing the technical skills of employees.

Yet the unpredictability associated with the contemporary marketplace and the increasing focus on the customer has elevated the importance of being able to solve unique problems and display initiative. To be flexible and enterprising is now a core capability of the modern employee.


Get three months free TJ magazine here

Apart from displaying appropriate initiative, the dimension of personal development and its impact on overall work performance is now widely understood and accepted. Today's workplace needs a more wide-ranging approach to HRD beyond the reliance on technical training.

Personal development stresses an indirect link between the learning experience and work performance. The primary motivation for an organisation to invest in personal development learning is to enhance employees' personal qualities that will have a positive impact on their overall work performance.

Unlike the production-centred approach, the person-centred approach has a more tenuous link to performance. It is based on the theory that capable people make capable employees in a variety of contexts.

For example, training programmes that improve people's mastery of themselves – such as courses on goal-setting, personal motivation, time management, and emotional intelligence – can have a resultant pay-off in terms of increased productivity.

Problem-solving approach focuses on improving employees' ability to solve problems. This approach improves employees' ability to make more effective decisions on the job. The rationale for this approach is the direct and indirect connection between problem-solving capability and organisational performance.

For example, topics such as creative problem-solving techniques, research skills, or analysis of typical workplace case studies can develop problem-solving capabilities.

Notwithstanding that there are three dimensions to learning and development (production-centred, person-centred, and problem-solving), undoubtedly the most effective way of aligning the changing needs and interests of individual and organisation is by adopting an eclectic approach.

A multidimensional strategy is a more comprehensive approach to learning and development that brings to light the strengths of each HRD perspective. Training is a narrow interpretation of learning and development. L&D professionals would do well to keep this in mind when planning their learning interventions.

About the author
Dr Tim Baker is the author of a new book "Attracting and Retaining Talent: Becoming and Employer of Choice" This is an extract from that book. www.winnersatwork.com.au

Related Articles

14 October 2021

Organisational design expert Amy Kates talks to TJ about her work, with particular reference to the challenges organisations face in the post-pandemic environment

13 October 2021

Showing your soft side in the workplace doesn't make you weak, says Joanna Howes it makes you a great intuitive team leader