In the recent years, we have seen a dramatic shift in the way organizations view training. Training departments have become learning and development departments. Training managers now are called learning and development professionals. The focus has shifted from organizations imparting knowledge and skills for employee development to enthusing employees take up self-development. Isn’t it the same thing, you may ask. However, there is a fine line between the two – the distinction between training and learning. Let’s analyze the differences in detail.
Training is generally perceived as an initiative taken by organizations to impart knowledge and skills to an employee for attaining organizational objectives. It is a necessary obligation that needs to be fulfilled as it is paid for and is perhaps mandatory. Training is externally applied and focuses on learning narrow skills-sets catering to current organizational requirements. Training has a “dominating” tone attached to it, with little credit being given to the learners – who are considered passive assimilators of knowledge.
Learning on the other hand is more individual-centric – something that individuals pursue on their own for self development. Organizations merely facilitate the process. It is something that employees want as they find that it has direct application to their jobs. The learner acquires new knowledge and skills which have a long term impact on their behavior. It generally focuses on learners achieving their potential by doing what they love to do best and are most capable rather than doing what the organizations force them to do.
I think the basic difference between training and learning is that of ownership. If the ownership of imparting learning is that of the organization, it is training. However, if the ownership of learning is that of an individual’s, it is learning. It is therefore not surprising that organizations today are focusing more on learning initiatives rather than training initiatives where the organizations acts as facilitators for employee development and the onus of gaining knowledge or skills is on the employees.