I have found that these words are used interchangeably, in a similar way that leadership and management are (I will come back to that one another time). I have found some peers and colleagues have very strong opinions and I have been questioned over the years about my preference and when and why I use each.

Ask yourself this, I say that I am a training professional, how would your perception change if I say I am a learning professional? Training Department or Learning Department?

As a trainer my responsibility is to create an environment, build an enthusiasm and present the content of a workshop or programme in a way which is relevant, useful and applicable to the learners so that learning takes place for them and the outcomes are achieved. I do the training part right then the learning takes place for them. Training = me, Learning = them.

When I started out a long time ago, as a Training Co-ordinator, in the days of the Youth Training Scheme (YTS) and Employment Training (ET), our industry simply used the terms Training and Development, there was even an Institute of Training and Development which then merged with the Institute of Personnel Management to become the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, perhaps this was when people started thinking ‘training’ was a lesser term?

When designing workshops/courses/programmes things have changed too – we have seen the term Training/Learning Objectives become Training/Learning Outcomes, I think the objectives are for the trainer and the outcomes for the learner. However, regardless, the trainer needs to focus on the outcomes…the why are we doing this or what will success look like? One of my favourite questions as a Manager in a Training Department when I was approached by specialist business areas who were unfamiliar with training design, but felt that training was the answer was,

“Once we have designed and delivered this ‘two days of training programme’ you think is needed what will the learners be able to do that they couldn’t before?”

Often, to be honest, their aim was actually to deliver the training just so they knew it had been delivered, that, I fear, is the down side when we focus on training and not learning. I jokingly used to call this ‘sheep dip training’, when they came to speak to me (do you actually want them to learn something or just dip them in the training juice?). Also, I have to say that their ‘need’ for it to be a ‘two day training programme’ was seldom accurate once we had drilled down to what the ‘outcomes’ would be.

In my humble opinion I deliver training, as I am the trainer, my focus is that my learners will receive learning as an outcome. This is the case when I am designing and delivering leadership training or facilitating workshops using collaborative thinking approaches. Facilitation is a ‘training’ technique and often a very effective way for participants to learn without feeling ‘taught’.

Why not get in contact and we can discuss how I can work with you to deliver your outcomes? I actually don’t mind at all whether you think it is training or learning, I can probably help.