Jun 05, 2015

Good afternoon all

Was wondering if someone could help clarify the difference between a learning needs analysis and a training needs analysis?  I see them as one in the same, but there tends to be some confusion around the 2.  Any help would be greatly appreciated. :)

6 Replies
john faulkes

I agree that in most organisations people would see them as the same thing. Certainly it is a good idea to do some analysis rather than nothing (!), and if it's being done seriously, who cares that much what it's called?

But in future things may be different; in organisations we have long misrepresented the learning process and as we develop more understanding we may become more comfortable with the semantics.

Ideally, employees and their managers analyse learning needs (albeit with some help, perhaps), as part of performance management and business requirements. It could be that learning is going to happen without any training at all; lots of learning happens with mentoring, coaching, and of course, taking on real work assignments. In fact, most learning actually happens via these methods.

Of course formal training is vital sometimes, to provide concentrated information, challenge and practice. But it would only contribute about 10% of the overall impact that leads to real learning.

Nevertheless, a training needs analysis is valuable to assess what training programs should be undertaken, that would contribute towards overall learning goals.

Dave Neuweiler

I think it's not so much a difference in the construct, but in the outcome of the exercise. I think of learning as education, and training as doing.

It's a distinction that is often muddled. To clarify the distinction, consider the 14-year old daughter at the dinner table who tells her parents, "I've just started a sex education class."

She'd probably get a patronizing, "That's nice, dear."

But what if she had said, "I've just started a sex training class."

I think the reaction would be quite different ... and that's the distinction between training and learning.

So to answer your original question, to me, LNA means, what do they need to know, while the TNA means, what do they need to be able to do.

Alexander Salas

They are really the same thing. Training is what you do to learn either implicitly or simply by experience. "Learning" seems to be a preferred semantic because some people like to feel some prestige about their occupation and perhaps there are some sensibilities regarding the differences of training a dog from "training" a human.  In a TNA you are identifying whether training is part of the solution to a performance problem. So if you are conducting an LNA, what are you identifying? How do you measure "learning"? In the end, it just comes down to what word your client or organization uses to describe the transfer of knowledge and skills.


Alexander Salas

I somewhat like this approach. The only issue I see is that we don't get learning degrees from schools. I think colleges would be actually very effective if they provided learning degrees instead of education. Furthermore, wouldn't education be the summation of all learning acquired and training activities to support them over the years? Ok, that was deep... ;  )