Why training is not always the right answer

Posted in: Edward Webster

In a world that is rapidly being redefined for us by geopolitical, economic, and technological changes our continuous development is a priority. I asked ChatGPT to write a blog post on “Why training is not always the right answer”. This is what it suggested… 

In today's fast-paced work environment, the need for continuous learning and development is more critical than ever. Many professionals turn to training as a way to develop their skills and stay competitive. However, training is not always the best solution for every situation. In this post, we will discuss different ways people develop their workplace skills and when they might be more effective than training. 

On-the-job training 

On-the-job training is one of the most common ways people develop their skills. It involves learning while working, which can be an effective way to gain practical experience. This type of training is typically hands-on and can include shadowing experienced colleagues, participating in projects, and taking on new tasks. On-the-job training is often most effective for tasks that require a practical understanding of how things work, such as manufacturing or software development. 

One of the advantages of on-the-job training is that it is typically tailored to the specific needs of the individual and the organization. However, it requires a supportive work environment that provides opportunities for learning and growth. It also requires individuals to be self-motivated and take initiative to seek out learning opportunities. 


Mentorship involves partnering with an experienced professional who can guide and support an individual's development. This type of relationship can be formal or informal and can involve regular meetings to discuss goals, challenges, and progress. A mentor can provide insights, advice, and feedback that can help an individual grow and develop their skills. 

Mentorship is particularly effective for individuals who are early in their career or transitioning into a new role. It can provide a safe space to ask questions and seek guidance, which can help build confidence and accelerate learning. However, mentorship requires a willing mentor who has the time and expertise to support the individual's development. 

Self-directed learning 

Self-directed learning involves taking control of one's own learning and development. This can include reading books, attending webinars or conferences, or taking online courses. Self-directed learning is often most effective for developing soft skills, such as communication or leadership, which can be challenging to develop through on-the-job training. 

Self-directed learning requires discipline and motivation to stay on track and follow through with the learning activities. It also requires the ability to identify areas for improvement and seek out learning opportunities that are relevant and effective. 


Coaching involves working with a professional coach who can help an individual develop specific skills or behaviours. Coaching can be particularly effective for improving leadership or communication skills, as well as addressing areas of weakness. Coaches provide personalized feedback and support to help individuals make meaningful changes. 

Coaching requires a willingness to be vulnerable and open to feedback. It also requires a coach who is qualified and experienced in the specific area of development. 

In conclusion, while training is often a go-to solution for workplace development, there are other ways to develop skills that may be more effective in certain situations. On-the-job training, mentorship, self-directed learning, and coaching can all be effective ways to develop workplace skills, depending on the individual's needs and circumstances. However, all of these approaches require a supportive work environment, self-motivation, and a willingness to learn and grow. By considering different ways to develop skills, individuals and organizations can ensure that they are making the most effective use of their resources and building a culture of continuous learning and development. 

What do you think about the AI's reply? What rings true? What would you disagree with? Please comment below. 

Ed Webster, Deputy Director of Workforce Development, Department of Human Resources.

More information on the topics mentioned can be found through links below:

On-the-job training (apprenticeships) - https://www.bath.ac.uk/guides/managers-guide-to-staff-apprenticeships/

Mentorship - https://www.bath.ac.uk/guides/getting-or-offering-mentoring-support/

Coaching - https://www.bath.ac.uk/guides/the-university-of-bath-coaching-service-for-staff/

Staff Learning and Development webpage

Posted in: Edward Webster


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