Why Training is a Large Part of Professional Development

Training is one way workplace skills are built and new competencies create new opportunities. Many training programs start with a list of goals or learning outcomes; everything you should know when you finish the training. Depending on the way you learn, you might take notes, ask questions, staying as engaged as possible. You may try to get as much as you can while you are there, but what happens after?

In my own experience the few days following training exploring new learning and conducting deeper research is greatly beneficial. However, after that initial burn off period the training is a good memory and not much more.

The human mind is designed to remember information it believes important innately,  if we want more we must capture it. Research suggests as much as 40% of our learning is forgotten in the first 20-minutes and in six days we may forget as much as 77%. So what does this mean for you or your organisation?

In short, the training you paid for last week may only worth about 23% of its original value. A wise investor would not invest in anything if the return was this low. Organisations rely on training to develop their people, grow and meet standards, this is a reality that will not change, but how can you ensure the investment is a sound one.

There are three stakeholders who have the potential to impact the value of this investment are individuals undertaking the training, organizations and facilitators.

First, individuals have an opportunity to make the most of any training they attend. Setting aside time to sort through the information, taking what is relevant and leaving what is not. Reflection is key to retaining knowledge, it is a flexible personalized way of thinking about what was important to you. Ask yourself what was a surprise about the training, one thing you learned, and one thing that was a reaffirmation of previous knowledge. Time is a valuable currency, instead of spending a few days on a course and losing the knowledge take responsibility and learn for yourself.

The way organisations invest in employees impacts their motivation, quality of work, and, yes, the bottom line. If you are sending employees on a training course to check the box, is there a possibility of them getting more out of it? Is it more important to have employees who have been trained or have employees who actually use their training? These are questions that need to be asked at every level of leadership. If you want to create greater retention consider running internal training where trained employees present and teach what they learned during the course.

The final stakeholders are trainers and facilitators. External trainers have unique perspectives and insights, they invest in organisations in different ways than internal staff. Trainers may not have an opportunity to create lasting change in a hands-on manner, but they can create programs that give you simple tools to use on a daily basis. If you want training that creates lasting change, challenge facilitators by asking: What are the practical learning outcomes of this training?


Individuals need to be responsible for their own learning. Organisations will get more out of training if they cement the knowledge within the employees who attend and spread the knowledge to those who didn’t. Facilitators should create lasting impact by giving simple practical take aways from training. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum getting the most out of learning opportunities should always be a priority.

Written by Zach Murphy

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