‘Training is not the same as learning’, says L&D expert

by John Hilton05 Apr 2016
Big changes are coming the way of the L&D profession and its practitioners must be the “athletes of our chosen sport” to keep up, according to Bob Aubrey, managing partner of Singapore-based Bob Aubrey Associates, and author of the new book Measure of Man.

In recent times, there has been huge changes in the functions of marketing and finance. However, in L&D we are still organising learning as training courses and we are still managing development using the classic competency grids and career paths, said Aubrey.

But if you look at what is coming along then you will find fundamental changes, he added.

“We know that technology is changing learning, but I think artificial intelligence will have a much bigger impact than social networking,” he told L&D Professional.

“Imagine the speed of learning that machines can do! Imagine the amount of information they can handle. We can no longer think only in terms of human learning.”

This is in contrast with the L&D of today, in terms of just being about the day to day job of running training courses. Aubrey said it's important to note that training is not the same thing as learning.

“You don’t always do more learning by having more training. Sometimes you have to do more learning by having less training,” he said.

“So to be an L&D professional doing the day to day work and not seeing how things are changing so fundamentally will put you at a disadvantage.

"You will just be one of those people who say 'we don’t need that person anymore' or 'we can outsource it to a service centre or to an external provider because this is not high level work'.”

On the other hand, the challenges in terms of change that L&D professionals are facing are very high level, said Aubrey.

“This means that L&D professionals have to learn and develop themselves perhaps faster than other functions because we are in front of these big changes right now," he added.

“Don’t just be focused on the day to day job, think about how this is going to change in the future."

Aubrey said the good news is that we are living in a region of the world where growth creates opportunities for billions of people.

“However, the speed of change has accelerated, and we are seeing unprecedented changes in work and learning.”

Consequently, L&D professionals have to anticipate and explore those “known unknowns”, he said.

“We have to be credible experts in working with business leaders,” Aubrey added.

“Most of us have a lot of learning and development to do in order to reach that credibility. We should be the athletes of our chosen sport.” 


The key to surviving the next disruption