A View on Training vs. Education vs. Learning

We often use these terms interchangeably, which might be acceptable in special situations, however, these terms have significant differences in meaning and outcome.


We will start with education a term is often associated with formal institutions, such as schools, colleges, and universities. Education typically follows structured and standardized programs accredited by governmental agencies (or others) with specific testing leading to a formal degree or certificate.


Moving on to training a term often used to refers to training people on doing something specific, such as in vocational schools where a person learn a craft or an occupation. The term training is also quite commonly used in adult education where one can take short courses independent of a degree program. In contrast to PMI®, the APM Group (of the UK) uses the term Authorised Training Organisations (ATO) to refer to organizations that they authorize to deliver training on courses related to topics they administer.


In general, both training and education share a purpose of helping people learn something. The challenge is that these types of programs (training or education) typically focus extensively on theory rather than practice, or at least not on real world practice. The output is people do learn something but the key question: can they apply it in the real world? The answer is often no, and this is why in many organizations ‘new hires’ are put into an on-the-job ‘training’ program so they can learn how to convert theory into action in the organizational environment.

The above bring us back to learning. Learning as a term often refer to ‘know how to do and understand why to do’ something, instead of ‘the theory on how to do’ something. In other words, when one says I learned to do X it implies that the person can actually do X; he/she has the knowledge, the skills, and the right behavior to accomplish what is required. We know that this is not universal definition but it is ‘generally accepted’ that learning indicates the knowledge and ability to do something and is a close step toward competency; where competency is the ability to demonstrate the learning and include behavior and attitude as additional factors.

Why This Discussion

We provide the above discussion to highlight that SUKAD operates in Adult Learning environment. In this environment, we need to focus on learning as a key step toward competence. We do this through most of our courses and workshops where we emphasize outcome-based learning. In other words, we do our best to enable the participants to apply what they learn in the class as soon as they go back to work. We do this despite the limitations imposed by clients and business environment.