Apparently according to the age-old saying; “You are never too old to learn.” This has always struck me as a statement which has a ring of truth about it. Well, it just so happened that recently I’ve had the chance to reflect on whether this supposed nugget of wisdom is fact or fiction. Let me explain.
When I left school at 18 I moved directly into full-time employment. It was a move I did not regret at the time as in the years that followed my career progressed well, and I certainly could not have complained at the many training opportunities I received. They were often very comprehensive and of the highest quality. I was very grateful for the investment my employers placed in me, and in return, I gave them loyal and valuable service. It was an arrangement that worked well for all concerned.
However, times change and around 18 months ago I had the opportunity to apply my accumulated industry knowledge in a new way and to a new audience. When it came I was extremely pleased to be a Higher Education Careers Adviser at GSM London.
A new career means there was (and still is) much for me to learn. I felt sure I was both ready and willing to face the challenge of yet more training. After all, had I not already successfully undertaken numerous training modules? Surely this would be no different? …….. Boy was I wrong.
On starting my new role, I had felt both pleased and privileged to undertake a relevant part-time postgraduate qualification at the University of Warwick. As someone who did not follow the traditional school to university route, I have always felt that somehow I had missed out on a valuable experience. Now I had an opportunity to fill that void, and I was grateful that both GSM London and The University of Warwick were willing to invest time and money in me.
What followed (and indeed it is a process that continues today) is a classic example of the difference between education and training. It is only now that I am halfway through my post-graduate certificate that the real difference in an education and being trained has struck home. I now realise that prior to attending Warwick, much of my own learning experience has been training rather than an education. So what’s the difference?
According to the Oxford dictionary training “teaches a specified skill especially by practice, so that the outcome is a specific set of behaviors which ultimately improve the efficiency of the organisation.”
Education on the other hand “focuses on learning new skills, knowledge and attitudes ……. The justification for the learning is to enhance a person’s being, and not necessarily the improvement of a performance that translates into the improvement of an organisation’s effectiveness.”
Viewed from a career perspective, a good education equips an individual to assume a new role or challenge that up to that point is unspecified.
Now don’t get me wrong I do not dismiss the training I have received from previous employers as irrelevant or lacking value. It is just another perspective on acquiring the attributes needed to succeed in a career. In short, being educated and receiving training are just different pieces of the learning jigsaw. Both are often necessary to complete the picture.
So if you are currently studying at GSM London or receiving training from a current employer, or considering additional further study; take heart from my example, for it turns out the old adage was right “You really are never too old to learn after all”.