What’s The Difference Between Training & Learning?

September 24, 2013

Here’s my definition; training is something that is generally organised for you by someone else and learning is something ONLY you control!

To reinforce my point I would add that as a tutor, teacher or educator (or whatever name you give to the person standing at the front of the group) what we try to teach is irrelevant; it’s only what you decide you want to learn that counts.

As educators it is our job to engage our delegate groups but we cannot force anyone to learn something they decide they are not interested in. I saw a tweet the other week that said “You can take a man to learning but you can’t make him think.” Obviously a variation on the better known quote “You can take a horse to water but you can’t make him drink”

I hear so much chat at the start of courses about the lack of training opportunities that some people have had. They see training as a ‘right’ and something that should be done ‘for them’, in work time and with full pay. When I suggested to one particular delegate that they should take personal responsibility for learning (and if necessary use their own time), I was greeted with derision. “Why would I help ‘them’ like that?” they stated in a reference to their employer. My response was simple, “What about helping ‘You’?”

So here is the exciting fact. It doesn’t matter whether you get the chance to attend formal training courses or not. What matters is that YOU have total control over what you can learn. The internet provides the greatest route to learning that mankind has ever had and 90% of that learning is completely FREE.

So how come someone who makes their living from classroom based training appears to be arguing that it serves no purpose? Well I didn’t say that, I said that training doesn’t work if people do not want to learn the subject and/or the educator cannot engage them.

It amazes me how many people appear on my courses that have no idea what the course is about (apart from the title) or why they have been asked to attend. I therefore need to spend the first hour of the course ‘selling it’. Managers must learn that the ‘learning process’ begins a long time before the event itself, with a conversation about why the course is actually needed and what specific benefits the individual will gain by attending.

My advice to individuals is to develop your own Personal Learning Plan each year. This can include both vocational and leisure subjects. Speak to your employer and gauge what formal learning programmes they are likely to put you through. Check how that fits with your personal and career goals and build a list of what the learning gaps look like. Check with your HR or learning & development department what the organisation might have in the form of e-learning or white papers, then search the internet for what might be available on-line.

As a final point you MUST join at least one professional body that is associated with your work and job role. The membership fees may be reimbursed by your employer but if not, pay for them yourself. It will be an investment NOT a cost. Most of these organisations provide free access to learning resources that more than pay for the membership fee and the fact you are a member will set you apart in your business from colleagues who aren’t.

One final point; in business and in life “What you don’t know can’t HELP you.”

Many thanks

Alan Mace

Training Consultant at MTD Training


(Image by David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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