Learning & Development

Is ‘Training’ an Antiquated (or Even Obsolete) Term?

Don’t get us wrong—training your employees will NEVER go out of style! But with evolving methods and shifting generational trends, we’re looking at a lot of the aspects of training differently. Should we be rethinking the entire way we brand it as well?

We started thinking about this after Managing Editor Steve Bruce returned from the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) Talent Management Conference and Exhibition, held recently in San Diego. He noted that the exhibitors and attendees were referring to various topics differently than in the past—“recruiting” was out, and “talent acquisition” was in; “training” was out, and “talent management” or “development” was in.

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Now, conferences always have the potential to be hot spots for the latest buzz word/phrase in the business world, but we were intrigued that such a stalwart word within nearly every company might be considered, well, antiquated. Why might this be?

Opportunity Is Rarely Thought of as ‘Mandatory’

One thing we came up with is that “training” unfortunately carries some negative connotations among those it’s intended to serve, especially when it’s “mandatory.” Of course, the employer knows it’s mandatory for a reason—it’s important! But in the eyes of employees, training may feel like a chore that’s happening TO them … rather than an opportunity or skill that’s supposed to work FOR them. See how a word like “development” might now have the advantage?
Engagement can make or break training’s effectiveness, and the stakes can be high when employers are trying to educate employees on compliance or workplace safety. Advanced methods are being developed every day for training—gamification, microlearning, social learning, online course options, the list goes on—but might the word “training” itself now be more associated with the days of thick binders and long hours in the classroom?

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What’s Your Take?

We realize the irony of The TRAINING Daily Advisor even suggesting there may be such a dramatic shift in the language we use regarding how employees are developed, but it’s important to take a step back every once in a while and really look at how training is perceived—because in the end, the perception drives (or drains) its success.
What’s your take on “training”? Does it really matter how we technically refer to it, or is this just business-speak running amok? Is your organization always looking for new ways to brand its training efforts in the most positive, engaging way possible? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

8 thoughts on “Is ‘Training’ an Antiquated (or Even Obsolete) Term?”

  1. Within our Organization we have attempted to stay away from “Training Sessions” by referring to them as Education Sessions. (I was told by one Senior Manager, you Train Animals – You Educate People.) I will now have to speak with our Teams about using Development Sessions.

    1. Thank you for your comment, A.J.! Interesting how both you and Sam mentioned “training animals vs. educating people” when it comes to terminology.

  2. As a Corporate Profession Development Trainer I like to use the word Educator in lieu of Trainer. We train animals not people. When feel like your viewed as a mindless animal being trained to do a task it easy to see why employees don’t see the need or benefit for training. In the military you drill trainee so that they will react in a given manner with thought. This is required due to the nature of their business. Do we need to drill employee’s in safety matter perhaps, but we MUST ENSURE they understand the reasons WHY they need the information. Explain how it can be beneficial to them and they will follow you to the ends of the earth.

    1. Sam, thank you for your input! Very true that how you refer to “training” may depend on the industry or business that you are in. Also, since you mentioned safety, one of our BLR safety editors said to me in passing that “training” is a specifically named requirement in many OSHA regulations. Therefore, would the terminology be as flexible when it comes to safety matters?

  3. In my opinion it is “just business-speak running amok”.
    No matter how it’s pitched, it is training.
    BUT if it makes a difference on the recipients perception, then I’m all for it – anything that increases the success!

    1. Excellent points Chris, thank you for your comments! Perception certainly goes a long way in training, similar to how Sam mentioned that the “why” of the sessions must be clear for employees.

  4. Certainly there has been a shift in terminology and kudos for recognizing the word choice in the SHRM community. I’ve used the terms acquisition, development, and engagement (rather than recruitment, training, and management) for about 15 years. The new (2014)SHRM Body of Competency and Knowledge uses the phrase “Learning & Development.” ASTD is now ATD (The Association for Talent Development). Ah, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

    1. Thank you for your comment Chris! Interesting that the shift has been happening for 15 years. Clearly something for companies to consider when branding and presenting their training programs for employees.

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