Europe needs to make better use of its older workers

In a recently released policy document the European Commission examines how the
European Union can make better use of the potential of its older workers.. The
concept of active ageing is a key component of achieving the European Union's
stated goal of more and better jobs by 2010. Targets have been agreed to
increase the employment of older workers on the labour market, but progress has
been slow. The Commission highlights early retirement schemes as a particular
cause for concern.

Increased participation of older workers is important if the EU is to create
the estimated 15 million jobs needed to fulfil the target agreed at Lisbon of a
70% employment rate by 2010. It is also fundamental to the future
sustainability of our economies, in the face of expected reductions in the
working age population.

Active ageing was identified in the Commission's Spring Report as one of the
three priority areas on which the European Union needs to focus its activities
if it is to meet the Lisbon target. Increased life expectancy means that people
have greater opportunities to fulfil their potential over a longer life-span.
However, their employment will be a key factor in maintaining living standards.

The main issues for the employment of older workers are:

  • Early retirement schemes are a short-term answer to economic downturn and
    corporate restructuring. They entail a permanent loss of human capital and
    growth potential, as withdrawal is difficult to reverse when economic
    conditions improve.
  • There is no evidence to suggest that older workers cannot make a full
    contribution to employment growth in expanding sectors ­ in fact, employment
    growth for older workers superseded that for prime age workers in most service
    sectors between 1998 and 2002.

Key conditions for fostering the employment of older workers are:

  • Appropriate financial incentives
  • Continuing access to training
  • Good health and safety conditions at work
  • Flexible forms of work organisation
  • Effective labour market policies
  • Improved quality in work.

Further Information

AplusA-online.de - Source: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work