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Bureau of Labor Statistics > Office of Survey Methods and Research > Publications > Browse Research Papers

Informal Training: A Review of Existing Data and Some New Evidence

Mark Lowenstein and James R. Spletzer

Abstract

Researchers' limited understanding of on-the-job human capital investments is partly explained by the fact that a great deal of on-the-job training is informal and difficult to measure. This paper reviews the informal training information in existing surveys, and then presents an extensive cross-sectional analysis of a new source of informal training data from the 1993 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Among other things, our findings indicate that the new informal training questions in the 1993 NLSY are picking up a sizable number of relatively short episodes of skill upgrading that the formal training questions miss. Our findings also suggest that formal and informal training are to some extent complementary, but formal training may have a higher return.