This article examines the relationship between the valence of formal learning (perceived usefulness of the outcomes of formal learning for daily work and ambitions) and the employability-related competences of public sector employees. Furthermore, the moderating roles of social informal learning and transformational leadership (TFL) are investigated. We conducted hierarchical linear regression analyses, using secondary cross-sectional data from Dutch public service employees (n = 8858). The results show that the valence of formal learning increases employees’ employability competences. Additionally, TFL strengthens this relationship for two of the employability competences. However, TFL also negatively moderated the relation between valence and one of the employability competences. Social informal learning was found not to have a moderating effect but to directly contribute to the development of employability competences. The results question the predominant focus in research on participating in formal learning to increase employability competences and adds new insights by introducing the valence of formal learning to the employability literature. Some implications for future research are given related to the limitations of this article, such as the use of cross-sectional data. The findings show the relevance of formal learning with high valence for boosting employability. Therefore, employers should encourage formal learning and employees should carefully consider its expected valence. Furthermore, the results show that employers should enhance transformational leadership styles and stimulate employees to learn informally. This study provides further evidence for the relationship between formal learning and employability competences by considering the valence of formal learning rather than focusing on whether or not someone has participated in formal learning. Furthermore, it extends previous employability research by considering the moderating roles of social informal learning and of TFL.
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© 2022 The Authors. International Journal of Training and Development published by Brian Towers (BRITOW) and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.