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1 Changing attitudes and perceptions about older workers AGE - the European Older People’s Platform Changing attitudes and perceptions about older workers.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Changing attitudes and perceptions about older workers AGE - the European Older People’s Platform Changing attitudes and perceptions about older workers."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Changing attitudes and perceptions about older workers AGE - the European Older People’s Platform Changing attitudes and perceptions about older workers Dr. E. Mestheneos, President of AGE 50+Hellas AARP Forum on the Future Workplace - New Strategies for New Demographies, Brussels 2008

2 2 The need for older workers ► EU Labour markets show huge variations in the size and composition of their work forces. ► Demographic change have a significant impact on employment markets. With the rapid ageing of Europe’s populations and longer life expectancies, extending working lives is becoming a key political priority. ► There is evidence that older workers want to continue to work where there are appropriate opportunities. Older workers respond to attitudes of employers and public policy. ► Where employers see a future lack of manpower, a positive approach needs to be promoted among them to employing older workers. Attitudes to older workers are influenced by misperceptions of their worth and relative costs and negative attitudes of unions, employers and human resource managers. ► There is a need to combat cultural attitudes against working beyond a certain age. Existing negative approaches to older workers in the EU have to change as employers need to retain and develop skills in their existing ageing workforces.

3 3 Facilitating work for older people ► Adequate legislation against age discrimination in employment exists but more action is needed from social partners to deliver results. Legislation is not in itself enough to help retain older workers in employment nor to delay the average effective retirement age. ► Incentives which address the range of reasons which lead people to retire early should be implemented to retain older workers in employment. These should not be limited to financial advantages but include working conditions, attitudes in the work environment, and the specific difficulties that older workers face in reconciling work and family life. There is also a need for education and training for older workers. ► Individual choice is a key issue to be taken into account. Active ageing should be considered as a positive strategy, encouraging and enabling older workers to extend their working lives, if they wish and are able to do so. Some workers - in particular those in high stress or difficult working conditions - need to retire early. There should be no attempt to oblige all older people to continue to work regardless of their health, economic and family situations.

4 4 Good work for older workers ► Active labour market policies targeting this specific age group are needed together with effective follow-up to ensure a change of culture and approach to older workers. This could take the form of adapting working conditions to the needs of older workers, the promotion of flexible work and incremental or part- time retirement. ► There is a need to provide an inclusive, attractive, safe and adaptable work environment which takes on board the needs and expectations of older workers with the creation of incentives to encourage older workers to remain longer in employment. ► AGE believes it is the duty of public authorities as well as of the social partners to promote a more positive image of older workers and to challenge ageist assumptions. For instance, there is evidence to show that workers’ productivity does not decline with age as diminishing physical ability is easily compensated for by qualities and skills acquired through experience (OECD 2006).

5 5 Importance of opportunities for older workers ► Opportunities depend on local, regional and national labour markets. With the employment rate of workers aged 55-64 still averaging only around 40%, real gains are to be made in enabling people to work productively as long as they wish. High unemployment, under-employment and a lack of training opportunities affects the long-term potential of older workers. ► Obliging older workers to take low and poor quality jobs is not the right approach. They will be more inclined to remain in employment if they are offered jobs and working conditions which enable them to make the best use of their skills and experience and where their performance and contribution continue to be valued. ► Self-employment is another important option for older people and can provide them with the flexibility to reconcile paid work with other responsibilities or commitments. This should not result in a lowering down of social protection level. In some countries self-employment hides underemployment and a lack of choice.

6 6 The gender dimension ► The employment rate and educational / qualification levels of older women are even lower than those of older men, illustrating the aggravated discrimination that women face as they grow older. ► The particular needs of older women in the workplace should be better accommodated and the procedures to re-enter the labour market should be simplified without reducing the rights of more vulnerable groups such as older women. ► To reconcile employment and other responsibilities such as caring for dependent relatives, the provision of specific measures, for instance job shares, part-time work, care leave, telework and flexible working hours would encourage a greater number of older women to (re-) enter or remain in the labour market. ► Some older workers, in particular women, may lack the skills to access certain jobs where, for example, they may need to use new technologies. Such skill gaps could be remedied through the provision of on-site training or day release programmes to enable employees to obtain tailor-made training outside the work place.

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