The fi rst issue which can be noted as emerging from a number of these chapters is precisely the growing importance of learning outside the academy in policy, practice and research. A number of factors have been identifi ed as underpinning

these developments. First, in the UK and more broadly in Europe, there has been a growing emphasis on policies designed to promote lifelong learning and, within this, informal or non-formal learning has been given considerable prominence. Helen Colley and her colleagues suggest that this focus on non-formal learning was underpinned by two major concerns: the need for increased social cohesion and engagement; and the need to improve economic competitiveness. While this led to increased interest in learning outside formal educational institutions, the focus was primarily on learning in the workplace rather than in wider family or community contexts. Tara Fenwick also notes the tendency to commodify experiential learning as human resource capital or social capital, while Jean Searle associates the emergence of a revitalized interest in workplace learning with the development of the ‘new capitalism’. In these contexts, Helen Colley et al. suggest that a central concern has been to make non-formal learning visible and to fi nd methods for assessing and accrediting it for utilization in relation to employment.