The difference between corporate learning and development

The difference between corporate learning and development

In the corporate world we often batch learning and development together, and for good reason. They both contribute to the overall growth and improvement of the business. But it’s important to understand the difference between the two, especially as it relates to the talent economy in today’s corporate world. 

Learning plays a vital role in upskilling employees – and it’s especially important to meet the ever-evolving demands of the workplace. On the other hand, development serves as an incentive for both recruiting and retaining employees. Let’s dive deeper into what sets learning and development apart. 


To get right to the point, learning is accountable to the organization. Learning/training is assigned to employees, and then the employees complete it. The objective is to often upskill or reskill employees, ensure employees are compliant, and/or facilitate new-hire onboarding. 

Learning is often directly aligned with a company’s business strategy. Calculating the ROI of a learning program is crucial to prove organizational demands are met. As business skills continue to evolve, learning plays an important part in ensuring that employees possess the requisite skills and knowledge to carry out their jobs.  

Instructional designers are important for learning development, especially because employees are not always motivated to complete required training. Instructional designers should be able to make learning content engaging, highlight important information with distinctiveness, and analyze learning completion/progress.


Unlink learning, development is accountable to the employee. When it comes to education, development is an opportunity for employees to upskill in the areas they deem relevant/interesting. Think about employee benefits, and what the workers want, and you’ll be thinking about development. 

While the ROI of development is more difficult to analyze, it’s important to look at employee recruitment and retention. Organizations that invest heavily in employee development are able to market their workplace as a great place to work at. It makes sense. Employees want opportunities to develop their knowledge and skills. 

Instructional designers are important for designing coursework, but for development, there are other more affordable strategies. At EduPivot, we often suggest ready-made coursework in areas that employees ask for. For larger organizations with a big budget, instructional designers and eLearning developers are the best for crafting customized development opportunities.

Which is more important

While learning and development are batched together, it is important to understand the differences. In terms of which is more important to a given organization, it’s often Impossible to answer without a situational awareness of the business. There are so many use cases for both – another reason why they are often batched together. 

For a specific program or initiative, the key question to ask yourself is this: Should the education be accountable to the organization, or the individual employee? The answer should guide you towards an investment in either learning or development. 

EduPivot LLC is a learning agency that specializes in transforming your workforce. Contact us today for a free consultation.