Contrast Training And Workplace Learning Management Essay

To compare and contrast training and workplace learning, which are two critical contents in HRD, researchers should focus on the differences and similarities between them. And to get the information of the link and relationship between the training and learning in workplace is also significant for the design of training, which may effect on the transfer on the outcomes of learning. The knowledge and skills of the workforce in an organization have become more and more important to the organizational performance, competitiveness, and innovation (Lawler, Mohrman, & Ledford, 1989; Martocchio & Baldwin, 1997). Thus, There is no doubt that employee training is a multi-billion dollar work all over the world (Industry Report, 2006). Since there are many factors and approaches that will effect on both training and learning, the compare and contrast of these two concepts becomes definitely important and meaningful.


Every year organizations invest a huge amount of capital and time on management and supervisory training courses, but investment does not always bear in improved productivity and employees’ skills (Cromwell and Kolb, 2004). And only a minority percentage of the training will occur to workplace, which is defined as positive transfer (the degree to which trainees effectively put the knowledge, skills, and attitudes gained in a training context into the practice of their jobs) (Newstrom, 1986).

The realization that learning happens in the workplace and that it is essential for the development of working knowledge and skills is now updated. Even though, in those years an interest among policy makers, researchers and employees in what comprise learning ,the way it takes place in workplace and through work is a central concern. But as a set of practice, “workplace learning” is changing through a period of both the political, economic and social transformation. (Lee, Fuller, Ashton, Butler, Felstead, Unwin and Walters, 2004).

Literatures that do researches on training or workplace learning aspect always highlighted the definitions, which are various in different periods and by kinds of researchers. Approaches and factors that will influence the outcome and goals are also popular in previous studies.

Definition of training & workplace learning

Although training and workplace learning are occurred in the process of working, and are important parts in employees’ personal development plan, the definition of these two concepts are totally different.

As Noe (2002:4) mentioned: ” the object of training is for workers to grasp the knowledge, skills and behaviors stressed in training programs and to use them in to their daily activities.”

That is to say training involves planned instruction in a particular skill or practice, and is intended to result in changed behavior in the workplace learning to improve performance. And there are four main ways that training has been conceptualized and measured. Generally, the measurement of training has comprised absolute measures, proportional measures, content measures and emphasis measures, which can be explained like the amount of training that employees have received, the percentage of workers been trained, types of training that provided and the importance of training that is perceived be the organization respectively (Phyllis T., Alan M Saks, & Celia M, 2007)

It is clear to see that training is more concentrate on the outcomes of what the employees have received, and from a performance perspective, the outcome of training should be reflected directly on organizational, financial and HR performance.

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The traditional awareness of learning is usually linked to formal learning, but nowadays workplace learning has gained numbers of popularity, fulfil the field of research wide-ranged and interdisciplinary (Tynjala, 2008). To keep up with the rapidly changing economy in order to be able to compete with other organizations, organizations need to be able to learn and act quickly (Ellstrom, 2001). The flexibilisation of the labour market is another change. Workers always choose to learn when they notice that learning is needed.The last but not least aspect is from the financial view, learning job related skills in the workplace costs significantly less than formal training (Boud and Garrick, 1999).

Approaches to training & workplace learning

Although trainig and workplace are both approaches that benefit individual and organizational development as well as financial outcomes through changing employees’ behaviours, the specific approach(way) to achieve final goal are different. And the training usually needs a transformation to get the maximum effectiveness.

Ji-Hye Park and Tim Wentling (2007) mentioned that transfer of training has considered training personnel and managers in organizations as well as academic researchers. They wrote the following:

Transfer of training is defined as the degree to which individuals effectively apply the skills and knowledge gained from a training program to a job situation (Wexley and Latham, 1991). …. After all, transfer of training is one of the major indicators to measure the success of learning in the workplace.

That is to say, managers should take part in monitoring training recruitment processes active to meet that need rather than approach to learning is the measurement to decide who is trained and in what aspect (Susan A.G., John A.F., 2006). Valerie J. Shute, Susanne P. Lajoie and Kevin A. Gluck (2000) commented that the methods of trainingthere has two aspects, one is in the individual’s level and the other is in the whole organization level. Then Sarder, Niranjan Kaur (2001) pointed out the fundamental of training methodologies are also the principles of training: active participation, all-around development, specialization, individualization and variety.

The methods of workplace learning are much more specific than that of training. Tracey Lee, Alison Fuller, and David Ashton (2004) summarized the previous studies and put forward the following approaches to learning, which are general: standard paradigm of learning and learning as acquisition, which can be explained like the formal learning as found within educational institutions is defined as operating through a ‘ standard paradigm of learning ‘, emerging paradigm of learning and learning as participation, that can be understand like adopt various ‘ socially ‘ informed perspectives on learning and/or who are concerned with informal learning processes.

Factors influence training & workplace learning

Since both training and workplace learning all take place in a common community and the organizations that often change in this rapid changeable era, factors that have effects on the transfer of training and learning in organizations also indicate some differences.

Susan E. Cromwell and Judith A. Kolb (2004) have referenced the former definitions to highlight one of the factors.

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From Goldstein (1986), Broad and Newstrom (1992), and Baldwin and Ford (1998) to define transfer climate as work environment factors noticed by trainees to encourage or discourage their use of knowledge, skills, and abilities learned in training on the job.

And they also tested the relationship between the following four work-environment factors: organization support, supervisor support, peer support, and participation in a peer support network, and the three different lengths time of transfer of training at: one-month, six-month, and one-year, points following supervisory skills training. The results illustrated that trainee who receiving high levels of the lengths of time acts higher levels of transfer of knowledge and skills, also the lack of time and lack of management support and buy-in were significant barriers to transfer in this progress.

Then Eva Kyndt, Filip Dochy, Hanne Nijs, (2009) used the definition of learning conditions from Clauwaert and Van Bree (2008).

Learning condition are conditions in the social, material or informational environment and in the work environment itself by key figures and agents of the labor organization, and by the employees themselves so that other employees can learn.

And the emphasis lies on conditions, possibilities or occasions created to make workplace learning possible.

The research pointed out that the knowledge acquisition and feedback, new learning approaches and communication tools, being coached or coaching others and information acquisition are learning conditions that have effect on learning in workplace.

Relations between training, workplace learning & education

It is obvious to see that in these differences there exist similarities and links between training and learning in organizations. And the significant link is illustrated in the relationship between training and learning with education.

Since training and education are sometimes used interchangeably, there must be a strong relation between them, and we can find the definition given by Shute, V. J., Lajoie, S.P., & Gluck, K.A. (2000) about training and education.

We define education as a systematic program of instruction with the goal of instilling or enhancing the knowledge of an individual or group about some domain(s). On the other hand, training refers to a systematic program of instruction with the goal of instilling or enhancing the proficiency of an individual or group in some skilled endeavor.

Both of them afford knowledge and skill, but the percentage of imparted knowledge is much higher for education, and the percentage of imparted skill is high for training.

Then from a real example from The Conference Board of Canada, which established the National Business and Education Centre in 1990, now simply known as Education and Learning Department. It shows the link between learning and education in business organizations more directly, and it helps leaders work together to develop a skilled and innovative society that will prepare for today’s knowledge-based economy.

A positive correlation was also found between amount of prior training and a deep approach to learning ( Susan A.G.,John A.F.,2006), and the more employees be trained, the more workplace learning they involved.

Relations with training, workplace learning & organizations

Nowadays, the experiences of employee performance are becoming more and more complex and challenging. There must be a continually effort in determining the important factors of effective training and supporting human resource manager focus on problems that can help the organization achieve its goals. So studies conducted regarding training and organization is emerged in endlessly. Training offers many benefits to labors and to the organization as a whole. Employees may become much more confident, willing to open to change and supportive of each other (Donovan et al., 2001). In addition, employees are more likely to reach improved performance as a result of training (Kamarul Z.A., Raida A.B., 2003).

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The relation between learning and organizations is much easier to see from the concepts “learning organization” and “organizational learning “. A learning organization is more prefer to encourages its members to improve their personal qualities and skills, so that they can gradually learn and develop. They can also get benefits from their own and other members’ experience, whether it is positive or negative. While it also provides the perfect environment for high performing teams to learn, grow and develop. Meanwhile formal and informal learning are combined in the organizational learning, which related to the organizational goals or achieve its objectives positively(Nicholas Clarke, 2004).

Eva Kyndt, Filip Dochy, Hanne Nijs, (2009) mentioned three different levels of characteristics to confirm the characteristics of employee and his or her organization have a relationship with the presence of learning conditions or chances for non-formal and informal workplace learning. These characteristics are summarized as personal characteristics (gender, age, level of education), professional characteristics (function, seniority), and sort of organization (type, size).


This paper has provided a review of some main differences and similarities between training and workplace learning. It has drawn on a variety of authors whose work can be characterized as making central contribution to these areas and has pointed towards some of the central points which are discussed and debated.

The different definition of training and workplace learning provides the backgrounds about where the behaviors take place, why it is necessary, and the employees that have willing to participate in these behaviors. The ‘approaches’ part highlighted in this paper is a review of methods that put forward by authors that conducted researches on these aspects, and it summarized the approaches both for individuals and organizations. Factors that may influence the training and workplace learning are raised through literature, and it can be noticed that the factors that effect on training are through the transfer, but the factors that influence workplace learning are much more directly.

The relation part of the training and workplace learning with other factors is for illustrating the similarities and relations between them. The relations with education are both significant and sometimes interchangeable, while the relation between training and learning in workplace also shows positive and significant links. The last part about the relation with organization is more about the benefits that individuals and organizations may gain from training and workplace learning, and the support for organization goals. However, the similarities are not significant and not mentioned sufficiently, which is a shortcoming of this paper.

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