Training or education?

PB-logoHere is my February Management Matters column in Prairie Business Magazine:

As a professor and former North Dakota Board of Higher Education faculty adviser, I am frequently asked why it takes so long to train college students. The question comes from a range of higher education stakeholders, including policy makers, business leaders, concerned citizens and even students.

I often reply with a story. One day when my daughter came home from school I asked her what she had done in class. She replied, “We learned about sex.” I remember thinking, “I wonder if that was sex education or sex training.” I was delighted to hear it was the former. The point of this awkward story is that there is a huge difference between training and education.

Take for example a diesel technology program in which students are trained to maintain diesel equipment. Graduates must be able to fix the equipment, not just discuss the theory. They are job ready and trained for most tasks they will encounter. Turning to education, consider a four-year management program. Students earn a broad education designed to help them solve problems in the complex global environment in which they will be operating. They are educated and job ready for a series of rather ambiguous and ever-changing tasks. Could they be trained as managers in less time? Perhaps, but they would be much less prepared for the uncertainties of modern organizations.

Training and education are both essential, but they are very different. Think back to the story and consider what mix of training and education your people need.