Learning and development


There are many different ways that employees can be developed including induction, on the job training, internal and external courses and workshops, compliance training, supported external study, coaching and mentoring. This section explores the different methods of learning and development and how they should be used to develop different employees.

An organisation is responsible for ensuring that its employees have the appropriate skills and knowledge to fulfil the organisation's strategic and operational objectives. This has obvious implications for recruitment, but it also entails a commitment to learning and development by the organisation to ensure that skills and knowledge are maintained and developed to ensure ongoing competitiveness and adaptability.

Learning and development, or as it is now commonly referred to; training and development or human resource development, encompasses a range of on-the-job and off-the-job methods for acquiring necessary knowledge, skills and behaviours. 

With this in mind, learning can be defined as the process of acquiring new behaviours, knowledge, skills and attitudes which enhance employees' ability to meet current and future job requirements and perform at higher levels.


There are numerous reasons why an organisation should invest in learning and development. Some of these include:

  • To improve business performance, productivity and efficiency – helping gain a competitive edge
  • Improvement in employees' skills and knowledge for their current job role
  • Increasing employees' generic skills – i.e. employability skills or key competencies (e.g. team work, problem solving, communication)
  • Compliance with legal requirements
  • Organisational development – i.e. the fostering of shared attitudes and values, change management, etc.
  • Talent management and succession planning
  • Employee career development
  • Employee motivation.

It is important to identify the purpose of any learning and development initiative to the organisation and the intended benefits of such an initiative.

An organisational focus on learning and development

It is critical for organisations to establish an organisational focus when setting goals for its learning and development activities. The learning and development objectives and strategies should link with the broader organisational objectives.

Organisations should ensure that appropriate needs analyses are undertaken to identify the learning and development needs of the organisation, the business units/departments and individuals. These needs should be prioritised in terms of their potential impact on organisational effectiveness and profitability.

For an organisation's learning and development strategy and policies to be successful, they should be focussed on helping the business to meet its objectives, and they should also reflect its mission, values and culture.

Learn more about mentoring and coaching.

Frequently Asked Questions

For more information on Learning and Development please see our FAQs and other resources below.

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