‘Education versus Training’ or ‘Education and Training’?

Last month, NASDCTEc met with the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. As we prepared for this meeting, a question lingered in my mind that we have all heard posed many times – is CTE education or training?

At the heart of this question is an assumption that education and training are fundamentally different. But are they?

One answer that I have heard quite often is that the difference between education and training is that education is a first chance system and the workforce/training is a second chance system. Is this still true today? Recent economic challenges facing our nation and the demands of the modern workplace have made it clear that all workers must be learners throughout their entire working career.  Also, consider the volatility of the workforce even absent the current economic crisis. Researchers note that individuals are voluntarily changing careers between 7 – 15 times throughout their working life.  Is a workforce system that is considered “second chance” sufficient to meet the needs of this economy? Does education just stop once you get your first round of postsecondary degrees?

Is the mission of education versus training different? Aren’t both education and training about providing customers (students of any age) with the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful citizens who can contribute positively their communities through their work or volunteer efforts?

Are the differences that have defined education and training steeped in concerns of competitiveness among programs rather than having truly divergent and separate missions and purposes?

CTE has often stood in the middle of the debate of education versus training – one foot firmly in each camp. As our organization moves forward with thinking about the next steps for CTE, this question of ‘education versus training’ or ‘education and training’ will surely be central to our discussion. What do you think?


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