Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to look at the issues concerning barriers that managers face in relation to participation in training and transfer of training, which have become increasingly important to HRD scholars and practitioners. To date, these areas have largely been examined independently. This paper aims to argue that there is an increasing need to understand and explore these two areas in unison.Design/methodology/approach – Although this paper is primarily conceptual in nature, in order to investigate a model derived from relevant literature, survey data from 137 Canadian employees, mostly from the broader public sector, was examined. These respondents completed a short transfer of training questionnaire three months after a one-day managerial training programme. In this study, open-ended questions investigating training barriers are analysed.Findings – The exploratory examination of information from participants of a managerial training programme suggests that the model which links literature on participation in training and transfer of training warrants additional examination. Most significantly, there was substantial overlap between the participation and transfer barriers with the most common barriers being linked to “lack of time” and “unsupportive culture”.Research limitations/implications – The main limitation of this paper is the relatively small sample size with regard to data concerning barriers to transfer. However, the authors feel that a key implication is that a “bridge of understanding” is created concerning the numerous factors that impact participation in training, transfer of training and the relationships between them. Hence, HRD practitioners and scholars can now use this model to begin to understand how they might improve the overall quality of training programmes and to further explore the relationship between transfer and participation.Originality/value – The conceptual model developed further integrates the respective literatures pertaining to management training participation and transfer of learning in the workplace. The proposed model shows how barriers to participation can become barriers to transfer and how barriers to transfer from one programme may become barriers to participation to subsequent learning activities.