By Mike Loughrin, CEO of Transformance Advisors

One Or The Other

I found myself struggling with the concepts of education and training. The words have different meanings which must set them apart from one another.

Education can be described as the process of learning general knowledge while developing reasoning and judgment. For organizations, we think of education as teaching people why we do what we do. The knowledge will often apply to many organizations and relate to current or future roles and responsibilities.

Training can be defined as developing a particular skill, to a desired standard, through instruction and practice. For organizations, we think of training as teaching people how to do their job. The knowledge will usually be company specific and apply to current work procedures.

It’s clear that education and training are different things. Does that mean we need to kept them separate? Do we run educational events one day and training events the next? Is a professional certification course considered education or is it training? The questions won’t stop coming!

education training

Digging Deeper

Let’s set the questions aside for a moment. We should dig deeper into the differences. This may impart some wisdom which will help find the answers.

Education may include knowledge gained through:

  • Executive education programs
  • Master degrees from universities
  • Professional certifications
  • General knowledge classes

Education is often “theory” to be used in the future.

Training may include skills developed through:

  • Software classes for the programs you use
  • Apprentice programs from community colleges
  • On-the-job learning with a supervisor or peer
  • Targeted classes on your standard procedures

Training is often “practical” to be used immediately.

dig deep

Another Approach

Another way to look at education vs. training is to recall the story about the tortoise and the hair.

Education is often an investment in the future. You may educate your customer support team on the best practices in customer service. The goal is providing a foundation for improvement in your processes which will deliver increased customer satisfaction – over time.

Education is the tortoise.

Training is often focused upon the here and now. You may train your customer service team on new call center software. The goal is for everyone to use the new software to increase issue resolutions during the first contact – starting immediately.

Training is the hair.

tortoise and hair

It’s Not Either Or

As I suspected, the evaluation of the differences between education vs. training did indeed spark an idea to answer the many questions swirling around.

Education and training are not the same thing. But, they are not expected to be an “either or” situation. There are no “education only” or “training only” events. You will find a mix of education and training in any effective educational course or training exercise.

For example, you may educate people on the concept and value of The 5S System. At the same event, you could conduct training on how to fill out a daily 5S audit report.

In another example, you may attend an educational program to earn a professional certification in lean or six sigma. You get educated on Vilfredo Pareto and the concept of the eighty twenty rule. Then, you receive training and practice creating a Pareto diagram using Microsoft Excel.

Both examples provide insight into a powerful combination. You provide education first and follow it with training. You may have 80% education and 20% training in an MBA course. Alternatively, an equipment safety course may be 20% education and 80% training.

The bottom line is to know you have a problem if your event is 100% education or 100% training. You need some of each.

education and training


Education and training are different.

But, that does not mean you need to classify any event as either education or training. In reality, all effective events are a combination of education and training. The ratio will be significantly different, depending upon the objective.

The debate is not “either or” thinking.

It needs to be thinking more about the ratio of education to training while thinking less about education vs. training.

education vs. training summary

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