In a knowledge-based society, the aim must be to ensure that knowledge, skills and competences are not primarily conveyed or acquired only through formal education or largely before entering the labour force, but that there are varied opportunities to explore current developments and to maintain or improve employability.
Learning activities outside formal education are classified as non-formal education or informal learning. Non-formal education means organised and sustained learning activities that do not lead to a broader or officially recognised qualification as is the rule with educational achievements in the formal education system. Non-formal education can take place both within and outside educational institutions, and is aimed at people of all age groups. This main category includes such varying activities as “courses conducted via classroom instruction” (including lectures) – whether these are job-related or have a private focus, take place during or outside working hours, at the workplace or outside the workplace, either paid for or not paid for by the employer, “courses conducted through open and distance learning”, “private lessons”, “guided on-the-job-training” and many others.
Informal learning refers to all less organised and structured learning activities, which may take place almost anywhere, e.g. within the family, with friends or at the workplace. A distinction should be made between “taught learning”, e.g. informal tuition or guided visits, and “non-taught learning”, e.g. self-learning, learning-groups, non-guided visits and much more.
This terminological framework provides a common frame of reference for statistics on adult education institutions, statistics on continuing vocational training activities of the enterprises and statistics on population education activities throughout the entire life span.
© STATISTICS AUSTRIA, Last Changed 06.08.2020