Training styles

Traditionally the stuff of classrooms and exercise books, training today is available in many forms. Here we look at some of the newer, as well as older, ways to learn and keep your skills relevant.

No organisation survives unless its people are continually learning and developing.

Training is the beating heart of this process and today, there are many ways to deliver it. The trick is to know what type of training is best for the learning outcomes you need.

Training: what types are best for your needs?

As the world around us evolves, so too do the demands of our roles.

Skills that were once imperative – and often the very reason we got our jobs in the first place – are suddenly not so vital any more. For some roles, personality traits are more important to employers than a candidate’s qualifications. Indeed the ‘Hire character, train for skill’ approach (to quote Peter Schutz, former CEO of Porsche) is rapidly gaining traction across both the private and public sectors.

At the same time, an organisation’s commitment to employee personal development is an increasingly important criterion for candidates. Job seekers are only too aware that their current skill set may soon be obsolete, so are looking for an employer that will future-proof their career prospects.

And if that wasn’t enough, in 2016 the SRA made a subtle yet significant shift in its stance on CPD (continuing professional development). Putting the emphasis on continuing competence, it said:

From 1 November 2016, you will no longer need to count CPD hours. Instead you should now reflect on the quality of your practice and identify any learning and development needs. You can then address these needs to make sure your knowledge and skills are up to date and that you are competent to practice.’

All of which puts the subject of training high up on both the employer’s and employee’s list of priorities.

Accordingly, the training industry has grown exponentially in recent years and, with it, the range of training formats available has widened. The upshot of this is a bewildering choice of not only what type of skills to train for, but also, how that training should be delivered.

This then, is brief guide to what could be the best type of training method for different types of learning.


Delivered exclusively through electronic platforms – and most commonly the internet – e-learning allows you to learn at your own pace and access the programmes and their resources when and where is suits you. What e-learning lacks in interactivity, it makes up for in flexibility, cost effectiveness and high learning retention. Involving no travel and minimal printed matter it’s also among the most environmentally friendly forms of training.

Most suitable for: knowledge-based training, test your knowledge quizzes, new starter induction programmes and compliance-driven refresher training.

Also good for: safety training, technology walk-throughs and IT system tutorials.


A form of e-learning, podcasts, like audio books and audio articles, offer a great way to turn occasional gaps in our day (or the commute) into informal, yet valuable, learning opportunities. If the idea of audio learning is new to you, Thomson Reuters, BBC and Law Pod UK are all good places to start.

Most suitable for: supplementing formal training, keeping up to date with legal, economic, business and political affairs and discovering new ways to maximise your existing skills.

Also good for: legal case histories and expert commentary.

One to one

One to one training is the most customisable training available. Tailored to your specific learning needs, the nature of your organisation and industry sector, it’s 100 per cent relevant and applicable to you from the word go and eliminates all unnecessary content. For this reason, one to one learning doesn’t come cheap so, if your organisation is paying, it’s can sometimes be reserved for more senior personnel and people in highly specialised roles.

Most suitable for: leadership training, mentoring, preparation for board/senior management positions and helping people settle into roles in new geographies/cultures.


The original, and still the most common form of delivering training, is the classroom (or training/conference room) format. It’s cost effective for the organisation and interactive for those on the course. For both, it’s time-limited so easy to plan around. Classroom training is indispensable when the interchange of ideas, experiences and suggestions and collaborative working and problem-solving are the guts of the learning experience. Classroom learning can be tailored to a single organisation, making it specific to its challenges or goals, or generic and open to people from multiple organisations, enabling delegates to gain wider insight and perspectives.

Most suitable for: team working, sharing experiences and war stories and tuition leading to certification and formal qualifications.

Also good for: specialist legal training and developing soft skills, including communication, time management and problem-solving skills and the ability to perform under pressure.


While the internet may have revolutionised almost everything in the last few decades, everyone, including Generation Y, appreciates the value of good old fashioned printed matter. The impression in the legal profession (whether perceived or actual) remains that text books are the best resources for serious theoretical and academic study. As well as greater ease of access and simultaneous visibility over multiple documents, many text books provide deeper technical and historical insight than online resources. Many students, meanwhile, may find it easier to annotate and highlight relevant passages and track their learning progress with printed materials than they do with e-learning resources.

Most suitable for: deep learning, exercises and revision for formal qualifications, post qualification and ongoing learning and background information to supplement and consolidate other forms of training.

Also good for: technology training, commercial awareness and financial literacy training.


Training today is available in many forms. For this reason, it’s advisable to consider the type of learning outcome you’re looking for before deciding which method of training delivery will work best for you and/or your team.