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How does development differ from training?

Learning practitioners talk about development and training as different approaches. Why is this?


Training is essentially a short term learning experience. Individuals attend a training course that has learning outcomes that will be tested during the training event.

Example: Appraisal skills training

Example outcome: By the end of the event attendees will be able to identify an individuals learning style by observation of behaviour.

Outcome tested by: Role plays, case studies, quizzes and discussions.


Development is often a longer term approach whereby an individual acquires new knowledge, skills and experience. The end point may not be clear and development may involve mentoring, coaching, self reflection and 360 degree feedback amongst other tools.

Development can be directed by a line manager, mentor or succession plan and equally it can be devolved to the individual to direct themselves. It can include formal development, involving a qualification.

Development can involve many different types of learning experiences, such as:

  • Secondment
  • Mentoring
  • Coaching
  • Project work
  • Being thrown in the deep end
  • Distance learning
  • E-learning
  • Shadowing
  • NVQs


Development is a commitment to yourself. Individuals who have a development plan tend to achieve more in work because they remain open minded and receptive to new ideas and aware that they need to develop to fulfil their potential.