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Working Life Changes and Training of Older Workers

Tikkanen, T., Lahn, L. C., Withnall, A., Ward, P. & Lyng, K.

Trondheim: VOX & European Commission. 2002. pp. 129.

ISBN 82-7724-039-2

This report is the result of a three-year European study (WORKTOW), which sought to examine how older workers (aged 45+)
cope in a working environment undergoing constant change. In particular, it was one of the first studies to focus in any depth on
learning and training for this sector of workforce. 

While most HRD literature has been concerned with issues pertaining to larger companies, WORKTOW concentrated on the
opportunities and challenges observed in small and medium sized enterprises. 

 The study showed that the situation of older workers employed in SMEs is actually more favourable than might have been
anticipated on the basis of the strong negative stereotyping to which they have often been subjected. They appear to participate
in learning in the workplace in the same ways as their younger colleagues and are generally seen as a valuable resource.
However, it was also found that employers sometimes hold ambiguous views of older workers and their learning activity and
often, awareness of the need for investment in HRD is poor or non-existent.

Yet this study provides encouraging evidence concerning the returns on investment in learning and development for older
workers in the form of increased commitment and motivation to learn as well as an improved social climate in groups of
‘mixed-age’ workers. Accordingly, the report challenges training providers to consider new and more appropriate methods for
this particular group of learners.

The report can be ordered from VOX at

Department of Research and Development
Nedre Bakklandet 60
N-7014 Trondheim

 Fax + 47 – 73 99 08 50

Or through e-mail to  bodil.blom@vox.no

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Editor: Sabine Manning
First set up: 01/10/2002
Latest update:01/10/2002