Survey Project results related to HRD in Europe

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Changing working life and training of older workers
Concept Trends Findings Practice Challenge
Synopsis Efforts should be made to acknowledge and accredit the competence of older workers in workplaces in a balanced way with their developmental needs, not least because of the attitudinal approach it underlines. Feeling of insecurity and defensiveness on the part of employees in their late career appears understandable in a generally discouraging cultural environment in workplaces as well as in society. Therefore, it is important to focus on launching more positive and encouraging attitudes in these efforts. One step already taken in this direction in many parts of Europe is acknowledging the value of experience-based competence and informal learning in workplaces.

Educational initiatives should be developed which create and strengthen learning opportunities and support for older workers and real lifelong learning.  In many European countries major changes in adult education have taken place, as well as lifelong learning has been the guiding principle in developing educational policies. However, the situation of older workers rarely explicitly addressed in this context, although the obsolete and lacking competence of this part of workforce is frequently referred to. More focus on and support to participation should be addressed both in the level of basic education and continuous vocational training to improve their learning environment and to strengthen their ability to update themselves. ICT is a central area to be addressed in these initiatives. There is a clear correlation between high level of initial education and participation in training during late professional career. Therefore it is important that national and European educational policies towards the practice of lifelong learning support provisions for upgrading these basic skills.

The following qualities should be included in the design of HRD programs involving older workers
(a) attention to the levels of basic skills;
(b) improvements in the working conditions within the work environment which contribute to a learning environment; 
(c) a system of needs-analysis and competence development planning, which addresses the individual differences among older workers;
(d) a system of individual and organisational competence analysis and its documentation, which acknowledges strengths as developmental starting points;
(e) development of new career trajectories that may support flexible expertise and learning to learn among the workforce. 
Additionally national initiatives are needed to reverse a general lowering of retirement age since it defines the horizon for personal investments in training and re-socialisation in the work place (Tikkanen et al. 2001, pp. 115; 114; 105). 

Reference Further policy implications with regard to the changing working life and training of older workers are put forward in the final project report (Tikkanen et al. 2001, pp. 114-117). 
See also project info on WORKTOW.
Descriptors D-CVT  D-LO  D-WBL        
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Editor: Sabine Manning  © WIFO