5 Ways Education and Training Differ…And Why It Matters

ID-10039330Education. Training. Are we simply playing a game of semantics? No, not really, although there can be differences in how certain fields describe learning. (For instance, the health care field almost always uses the term “education” rather than the term “training.”) But when we’re talking about learning development, there are appreciable differences between education and training and it helps to understand them.

  • Education is measured by tenure. Training is measured by ability.

For most of us, when we think of education, we think of formal schooling of some type, all the way from preschool to graduate school. Most education involves a significant investment of time and effort, typically spanning years. Think med school or grad school. Often, training is much more short-term, with a shorter time frame and a faster payoff. Think of a daylong training session held by HR or the 5-day seminar you attended last summer. Training typically has a shorter duration and a very specific goal.

  • Education is knowledge. Training is knowledge + skills applied to a job or task.

When you think of school, learning is divided into subjects: history, math, English. Education typically equates to the amassing of facts, figures, details, timelines. When we think of training, it’s nearly always applied to a work setting. You may have a teacher, but the teacher’s job is to figure out what you already know–whether that is facts or skills or abilities–and improve upon them so you can do your job or a task better.

  • Education involves principles. Training involves application.

Education has been defined as knowing how, while training is defined as knowing why and what. For example, a pilot knows how to fly a plane but an aeronautical engineer knows the physics behind why the plane flies. When education and training work hand in hand, then both the learner and those affected by the learner benefit. For example, if the pilot also understands the physics behind flight, then that likely makes him a better pilot.

  • Education is transferable. Training may or may not be transferable, depending on the type of training.

You take what you learned from elementary school, high school and college with you to every job, city, and social situation you find yourself in. Education is lasting and carries from place to place. Training, on the other hand, may be quite specific to your current employer, and even to the specific job you hold with that employer. You might master the learning management system (LMS) at one job but be faced with an entirely new system if you transfer jobs. In some instances, training will carry with you from job to job. An example would be leadership training or communication skills development. Those definitely fall in the category of training and they are transferable. They  have value no matter where you go.

  • Education involves knowing something. Training involves knowing how to do something. A valuable skill to possess is the combo—having the information and knowing how to apply it to your situation.

Consider a mechanic vs. a mechanical engineer. The engineer may know the what and wherefore behind the workings of a catalytic converter without ever having touched one. A mechanic, on the other hand, has touched many and likely knows how to fix one that is broken. Just like our pilot example above, how valuable is the mechanic who knows both the workings of the catalytic converter as well as how to repair one. Again, when education and training work together, a tremendous partnership is created. The values carries through to the employee, the employer, and those who are served by both.

What about you? Do you think the difference between education and training matters? Do you think this post defines the differences and similarities well or did we miss anything? Tell us in the comments.

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