The relativity of formal, non formal and informal learning

Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Cameron, R & Harrison, JL 2008, 'The relativity of formal, non formal and informal learning', Proceedings of 22nd annual Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management Conference, Auckland, 2-5 December, Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management, Auckland, NZ.


The difference between formal, non-formal and informal learning has long been a contentious issue with growing interest in recognising non-formal and informal learning originating from the broader international policy developments around lifelong learning. International interest has recently been rekindled with the New OECD Activity on Recognition of Non-Formal and Informal Learning. This impacts HRM areas of skill recognition, workplace learning in an era of low unemployment rates, looming skill shortages and declining rates of workforce participation. This paper reports on data from a learning grid in a Learning Survey of labour market program participants (n = 172). We find that life and work experience are relatively more important for gaining the self-reported skills than formal training/study. We also find an interaction between skill source and skill type.