Education Vs. Training: Which is Better for a Talent Development Plan?

talent development
Talent development looks closely at how to help employees reach their goals, enhance their techniques, and advance in their career path.

Key points:

  • Many employees want talent development but receive none.
  • Training and education each have their strengths and weaknesses.
  • When used in harmony, training and education can boost performance.

Talent management — a bird’s-eye view to determine what skills and talents an organization requires — has innumerable benefits, but it’s a lot rarer than you might expect. Nearly 59% of employees receive no workforce training, and 70% of employees would be willing to quit their current jobs to work for a company with reputable training or education. But talent management isn’t one process. It involves talent development, which looks more closely at how to help employees reach their goals, enhance their techniques, and advance in their career path.

Within that, there are two distinct terms often used interchangeably — workplace training and workplace education. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, and each can add value to the contributions of your employees and your business as a whole.

What are the Benefits of a Talent Development Program? 

While most employees arrive at your company armed with the skills to do their jobs, there are plenty of reasons to prioritize further talent development:

Higher performing employees

When a company’s workforce is able to grow their own talents, they become more efficient and skilled. Talent development techniques, like improving an employee’s strengths rather than fixating on their weaknesses, can boost sales by up to 19% and profit by nearly 30%, according to Gallup, along with a 22% to 59% reduction in safety incidents. 

But talent development doesn’t just drive better on-the-job performance. It also helps employees feel valued by a company, which improves their overall dedication to their job. Businesses with actively interested and dedicated employees can see a 41% drop in absenteeism, according to the University of Ottawa.

Customers also notice the difference. Gallup found customer engagement rose from 3% to 7% in organizations that prioritized talent development. Not only will employees be more receptive to a customer’s needs, they’ll be able to anticipate them without prompting, as well as better handle complaints.

Shrinking skill shortages and consistent standards 

Roughly 87% of companies have skills gaps now or expect to within the next five years, according to McKinsey. Talent development helps organizations fill gaps in their current workforce’s knowledge, rather than constantly seeking out new talent. Instead of recruiting and onboarding qualified candidates, organizations can work with employees they already trust.

Companies can also use talent development to standardize employee training,  education, and organizational goals.. Employees may have picked up their skills from a variety of places — college, trade schools, even experience at a rival company. A talent management program ensures everyone in your workforce is on the same page, no matter their job title. 

Improved legal compliance

Talent development programs ensure managers and employees adhere to all applicable workplace conduct laws. This may help organizations avoid lawsuits for breaching anti-discrimination rules, overtime or labor laws, and other regulations that may apply to your specific industry. 

Aside from compliance with state or federal legal requirements, talent development ensures your employees understand your organization’s own internal standards around customer service, workflow, or quality control. In industries with professional standards — like architecture, accounting, or medicine — companies need to make certain their employees aren’t running afoul of the rules. 

More talented candidates 

Ambitious employees are keen on working for companies that prioritize talent management. This is especially true among younger generations who stand to benefit most from excellent training or educational opportunities. Learning is seen as the key to a successful career by 76% of Gen Z employees, according to LinkedIn’s 2021 workplace learning report. 

Talent management also includes a company’s internal mobility, or the ability of employees to move up or laterally within the organization. Workers stay an average of 5.4 years at companies with good internal mobility, roughly twice that of companies without an easily scalable corporate ladder. 

When all of your candidates are on the same page about expectations, they’re more likely to efficiently work together and set a high standard overall. They’re also far less likely to make mistakes or leave each other out of the loop. 

What is Workplace Training? 

Workplace training is the nuts-and-bolts of talent development. Instead of exploring a broad curriculum on leadership, sales, or marketing, training is all about refining a very specific set of skills. That might include the use of a program like Salesforce to track leads or familiarity with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals for employees handling dangerous substances. 

Compared to an intensive education course, workplace training is relatively cheap and fairly quick. Employees might even be able to attain certification while handling their full-time workloads. It is also very job-specific. Employees who learn the basics of Salesforce, for example, might not be qualified to use an alternate sales software. 

Finally, workplace training teaches a standardized process across an entire workforce. If everyone at a company is required to do anti-discrimination training, everyone in the room walks away with the same understanding of what discrimination looks like and how to prevent it in the office. 

talent development infographic highlighting four benefits

What is Workplace Education? 

Workplace education is a more holistic and wide-ranging form of talent development. Employees build a body of knowledge on a specific subject and learn how to solve problems on their own initiative, rather than simply following a predetermined process. A sales education curriculum, for example, might teach the basic psychology of customers, different philosophies of sales, and innovation trends in the sales industry. 

Workplace education is more extensive than workplace training and might require employees to take a break from work and devote themselves full-time to their studies. Study periods can range from weeks to years, depending on the skills and competencies being taught. However, workplace education leaves employees equipped to not only handle a specific tool or task but apply their body of knowledge to similar tools or tasks without the need for further training. 

What does that mean? Someone trained in the basics of management for a company’s advertising team might be able to switch over to the C-suite without needing to go through an entirely new workplace training program. Yes, there are some differences between managing an advertising team and leading an entire company, but the basic principles remain the same. Moreover, that newly minted C-suite executive can use their past experience to further develop their skills. 

Which Should You Use? 

Talent development strategies such as training and education both have their benefits. Training allows employees to quickly upgrade skills they use on the job every day, while education lets them build a suite of skills that makes them knowledgeable, innovative, and valuable to your business. Used together, each of these talent development techniques plays to the strengths of the other.

Employees — and businesses — must constantly update their skills to remain relevant in today’s fast-paced world. While investing in either training or education can seem daunting at first, the results keep your business one step ahead of the pack. 

How Can SentricHR’s Talent Management Platform Help? 

Software is one of the best ways to streamline the talent development process, from setting workplace goals to launching a full education program for top performers. SentricHR’s Talent Management software guides employees through training programs or courses so they can always stay on top of the latest knowledge in their field. 

Every course they complete is also logged, so you can easily see who is up-to-speed and track training with ease. Creating training calendars or class schedules, assigning employees to specific curricula, or offering optional courses is also easy as can be. 

Schedule a free demo with a Sentric representative today


The Sentric Team

The Sentric Team

At Sentric, we help businesses make people management easier with industry-leading technology and standout support.

Sentric HR & Payroll Insights

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