What’s the Difference Between Training, Education, Development and Learning?

by | Jun 18, 2013 | Learning

image of Kevin Wheeler, Founder of Future of Talent Institute

Kevin Wheeler

We in the corporate learning space often discuss the concepts of learning, education, training and development. These terms are used so frequently, we might assume we truly understand the differences between them.

In this short post, I will review the differences between training, education, development and learning, by providing you with various referential definitions of each term.



  • Teach a specified skill esp.by practice (Oxford Reference Dictionary, p. 1528)
  • Systemic instruction and drill. (Webster)
  • If the end result is a specific behaviour, such as welding two metals, and the justification for learning is to improve effectiveness of the organisation in which the welder works . . . the enterprise is training. (Curriculum for the Workplace, p. 13)
  • TRAINING: Specific transfer of same skills to similar settings for the purpose of addressing gaps in skills or knowledge learning. (Dr. Simon Priest)



  • The knowledge and skills resulting from instruction and training  (Webster)
  • . . .systematic instruction.  (Oxford Reference Dictionary, p.448) 
  • Education focuses on learning new skills, knowledge, and attitudes that will equip an individual to assume a new job or to do a different task at some predetermined future time.  (Nadler, p.6)
  • When the behavior at the end of a learning experience is unknown, because it is unknowable, and the justification for the learning is to enhance a person’s being, not necessarily the improvement of a performance that translates easily to the improvement of the organisation’s effectiveness (though that might happen), the enterprise is called education. (Curriculum for the Workplace, p. 13)



  • Development activities are not job related but are oriented to both personal and organizational growth. The focus of such activities is on broadening the learner’s conceptual and perceptual base in areas not previously explored or experienced by the individual. (Nadler, P.7)
  • DEVELOPMENT: General transfer of similar skills to very different settings for the purposes of improving the way people feel, think, behave, or resist learning. (Dr. Simon Priest)



  • The act of acquiring knowledge or skill  (Webster)
  • Knowledge acquired by study  (Oxford Reference Dictionary, p. 814)
  • Permanent changes in a person that is related to past experiences and the opportunity to acquire skills and knowledge.


Kevin Wheeler
Kevin Wheeler Founder and Chairman the Future of Talent Institute. Kevin started FOTI in 2004 out of his passionate belief that organizations need a more powerful and thoughtful architecture for talent than they have. After a 25 year career in corporate America serving as the Senior Vice President for Staffing and Workforce Development at the Charles Schwab Corporation, the Vice President of Human Resources for Alphatec Electronics, Inc. in Thailand, and in a variety of human resources roles at National Semiconductor Corporation, Kevin has firsthand knowledge of the need for better strategies and approaches to finding, developing and retaining people.

Today, Kevin is a globally known speaker, author, teacher and consultant in human capital acquisition and development, as well as in corporate education. He is the author of numerous articles on human resource development, career development, recruiting, and on establishing corporate universities. He is a frequent speaker at conferences. He writes a weekly Internet column on recruiting and staffing, which can be found at www.ere.net, and he and Eileen have written a book on corporate universities, The Corporate University Workbook: Launching the 21st Century Learning Organization. He serves as adjunct faculty at San Jose State University, the University of San Francisco and on the business faculty at San Francisco State University.

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