Recognition of non-formal and informal learning

Recognition of non-formal and informal learning

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Recognition of non-formal and informal learning


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Recognition of non-formal and informal learning (in the field of youth)

Document or Iniciative

Resolution of the Council and of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council, on the recognition of the value of non-formal and informal learning within the European youth field [Official Journal C 168, 20.7.2006].


The value and visibility of non-formal and informal learning for young people should be enhanced by recognising the work and achievements of young people and those active in youth work and youth organisations. They should therefore be given due consideration by employers, formal education and civil society in general.

These kinds of learning are important because they:

  • are complementary to the formal education and training system;
  • have a participative and learner-centred approach;
  • are carried out on a voluntary basis and are therefore closely linked to young people’s needs, aspirations and interests. By providing an additional source of learning and a possible route into formal education and training, such activities are particularly relevant to young people with fewer opportunities;
  • take place in a wide and varied range of settings.

The field of youth is important because of the economic and social impact of public and private investment in this field at local, regional, national and European levels. Non-formal and informal learning activities can therefore provide significant added value for society, the economy and young people themselves.

Non-formal and informal learning are important elements in the learning process and are effective instruments for making learning attractive, developing lifelong learning and promoting the social integration of young people. They encourage the participation, active citizenship and social inclusion of young people, and are of practical relevance to the labour market by helping to acquire knowledge, qualifications and other key skills.

The Youth in Action programme for the period 2007-2013 and its predecessor, the Youth Programme make an important contribution to their European dimension.

The Council therefore calls on the Member States and the Commission to:

  • ensure the comparability and transparency of the skills and competences acquired by young people through non-formal and informal learning, which involves developing a youth-specific element within Europass for identifying and recognising these skills and qualifications in the EU, especially in the labour market. To this end, the voluntary use by young people of Europass and similar national and European instruments should be encouraged;
  • encourage public bodies and NGOs to use comparable and transparent instruments for recognising the competences of those active in youth work and youth organisations, in accordance with the European Portfolio for Youth Leaders and Youth Workers currently being developed within the Council of Europe;
  • recognise and support the contribution made by youth organisations and other NGOs to non-formal and informal learning;
  • promote application of the common European principles for the identification and validation of non-formal learning to the specific needs of the youth field;
  • encourage research into the socio-economic impact of non-formal and informal learning, including the contribution of youth organisations and other NGOs;
  • encourage social partners to acknowledge the quality and diversity of non-formal and informal learning and to recognise its social and economic added value;
  • encourage innovative partnerships between formal and non-formal learning providers, in order to develop educational approaches that could be attractive for different groups of learners.


Recognising the value of non-formal and informal learning in the field of youth helps to achieve the objectives of the Lisbon Strategy and the European area of lifelong learning. As such, this follows on from the 2002 work programme on the follow-up of the objectives of education and training systems in Europe, which aimed to make education and training systems a point of reference of a world-class standard.

This is one of the concerns about cooperation and the validation of learning outcomes, following the example of the 2002 Resolution on lifelong learning, the 2005 European Youth Pact or the 2006 report entitled ” Modernising education and training “. It will complement the work of the Council of Europe in this field by means of the European Portfolio for Youth Leaders and Youth Workers.

On the whole, we need to create reference frameworks in order to assess the skills acquired and promote mobility by building bridges between formal, non-formal and informal learning, as highlighted by the 2001 White Paper entitled ” A new impetus for European youth “.

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