A key challenge for our society is how we view and organise learning and education in the context of rapidly changing technological, economic and societal developments. To respond to this challenge, the European Commission and the DG for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (EAC) initiated a debate to generate new, forward-looking policy ideas. A major development in education, triggered by different drivers, is the growing importance of non-formal and informal learning. Such types of learning are typically taking place voluntarily in real-life situations and often through peer interactions and participatory approaches. In addition, non-formal and informal learning take place in work and leisure. Work and career-oriented learning, upskilling and reskilling on the job, and learning for personal development are frequently associated with informal, flexible and collaborative ways of learning. At the same time, we can also observe that the boundaries between formal, non-formal and informal learning are blurring. Digitalisation enables this development by allowing online courses to be provided in a more flexible manner and to promote peer-learning among learners with different backgrounds. At the European level, several initiatives have been launched in the past 15 years to support non-formal and informal learning, and to promote its validation and recognition. The European Qualification Framework, the Europass and the validation process scheme for non-formal and informal learning (identification, documentation, assessment, certification) can be mentioned here as significant milestones. To develop a vision of the future of non-formal and informal learning, this study identified major trends and drivers on different forms of learning. These trends were assessed by an online survey involving around 200 experts from different sectors and countries. Based on the outcome of their assessment, three scenarios and their corresponding implications for society, economy, education systems and policy have been developed and discussed.

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