People are constantly learning everywhere and at all times. For people outside the initial education and training system, adults in particular, it is very likely that this learning, taking place at home, at the workplace or the types of outcomes that pre-school education, is a lot more important, relevant and significant than the kind of learning that occurs in formal settings. However, learning that occurs outside the formal learning system is not well understood, made visible or, probably as a consequence, appropriately valued.
The approach has been endorsed by ministers of labour, ministers of social affairs and the OECD Council at ministerial level. It is an approach whose importance may now be clearer than ever and non-formal and informal learning outcomes are viewed as having significant value. Formal learning is always organised and structured, and has learning objectives. From the learner’s standpoint, it is always intentional: i. Typical examples are learning that takes place within the initial education and training system or workplace training arranged by the employer. Informal learning is never organised, has no set objective in terms of learning outcomes and is never intentional from the learner’s standpoint. Often it is referred to as learning by experience or just as experience.