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Training education and development

In this article Dr. El Parker considers the different terms: training, education and development.
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
We have previously defined training as a structured approach to developing the capabilities required to function effectively in the workplace.
Education might be thought of as the broader context within which this structured workplace learning sits. Education includes structured formal learning undertaken through childhood, college and later in life and is not necessarily focused upon the skills knowledge and attributes required in the workplace.
We will look at learning in more detail in a later section. Suffice to say, learning is the process of acquiring new knowledge skills and attributes. Learning can take place in both the formal and informal environment.
Increasingly, the term ‘training’ is combined with the term ‘development’, for example, a ‘training and development strategy’. In this context development can generally be defined as the growth or realisation of the person’s ability and potential (Armstrong 2001). Thus, continuous development is aimed at developing and evolving skills, knowledge and attributes over time to cumulatively meet needs and aspirations. Development implies a significant emphasis on the individual identifying and driving their own learning.
We get only 25% or less of what we use in our jobs through formal learning. Yet, most of an organisation’s budget is focused on formal structured training events. The net result is that we spend the most money on the smaller part of the equation. (David Grebow, IBM Institute for Advanced Learning)
Learning is not considered a singular, unconnected event that happens once with no bearing on or from other parts of an individual’s job or life. Informal and continuous learning should now be encouraged as part of an employee’s growth and one that is organised into the system as much as formal training.
A successful organisation does not merely provide formal training but cultivates a system that creates continuous opportunities for learning and development. Examples of ‘formalised’ informal learning (ie, integrated into the organisation’s development system) would include coaching and mentoring, support tools, training that can be requested at any time such as e-learning and mobile learning, communities of practice and access to professional bodies for social networking (Gutierrez 2016). The figure below describes how this continuous learning approach can lead to improved retention of specialist knowledge.
Graph describing improved retention from continuous learning rather than a traditional single training event where initial retention is lost because of a lack of post event support.
(Bersin by Deloitte 2013)

Your task

Below is a list of activities. Identify those that you would consider to be ‘training’, those that you would consider ‘education’ and those that might be considered ‘development’.
Why did you separate them as you have?
  • a. A team leader showing a team member how to operate new equipment
  • b. A colleague showing another colleague how to operate equipment
  • c. An instructor lecturing a group on how to operate new equipment
  • d. A team member attending a local education centre on a day release scheme
  • e. A technician spending a week on a residential course on new procedures.
  • f. A manager briefing his/her team.
  • g. An expert giving guidance to a team leader on good practice and limitations of the new equipment
  • h. A manager watching a receptionist dealing with a difficult caller
  • i. Police recruits practising firearm skills via a drill
  • j. A new sales person accompanying another experienced person on sales visits
  • k. Attending an evening class for ‘Holiday Spanish Conversation’
  • l. Attending a pre-natal child care course
  • m. A group of students attending a graduate course in English literature


Armstrong, M. (2001). A Handbook of MANAGEMENT Techniques: The Best-Selling Guide to Modern Management Methods. Kogan Page Publishers: London.
Gutierrez, K. (2016) The Google Way of Building A Strong Learning Culture [online] available from https://www.shiftelearning.com/blog/building-learning-culture [29 October 2018]
Bersin by Delloite (2013) Building a Smarter Workforce.
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
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