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What is the difference between training and capacity development?

Published on 23 February 2012
Updated on 19 March 2024

The terms ‘training’ and ‘capacity development’ are sometimes confused or used interchangeably. 

Training is just one element of capacity development. It usually focuses on providing skills for specific problems (e.g. using Facebook or Twitter). 

Capacity development encompasses a whole range of activities designed to empower individuals and institutions (including the analysis of policy contexts, awareness building, institutional adjustments, policy research, policy immersion and more).

The need for capacity development ranges from individuals to businesses and governments from local to national and international levels.


Digitalisation in capacity development and training

In particular, institutions, be it the national or the global ones, need new insights and understanding to make informed policy choices on cybersecurity, data, artificial intelligence and other technologies with the long-term impact.

Digitalisation should be used as a way to transform the overall capacity development sector, especially in international organisations. The existing training programmes in food, migration, human rights, and trade sectors should be adjusted to digitalisation challenges. New programmes should be developed in order to cover multidisciplinary aspects of digital policy and cooperation.

The development of digital capacities plays an important role in the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Capacity development in the digital field should address the following aspects:

  • Start by asking ‘whose capacity’ and ‘capacity for what’
  • Complement hard skills with the soft ones
  • Ensure local ownership of capacity development programmes
  • Embed programmes in real-life policy processes (just-in-time training)
  • Pay attention to the timing and sequencing of capacity development initiatives
  • Allocate sufficient resources for quality capacity development programmes

In Diplo programmes, training is embedded within a broad set of activities, carefully designed to take into account the local cultural, policy and organisational context.


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3 replies
  1. Kingsley Nwaka
    Kingsley Nwaka says:

    Dear Sir,
    Please sir can you help organize a workshop for Government functionaries in Nigeria.
    Looking forward for a good response.
    Your faithfully
    Kingsley Nwaka.
    Head of Operations
    Revenue mobilization and capacity development.


    Continuous learning is the best weapon that prepare an individual for a secured future and happy living


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