Liz Mestheneos, AGE President, participated in the AARP International Forum on the “Future workfore: New Strategies for New Demographies” on 23-24 June 2008 where she spoke on the need to change attitudes and approaches to older workers. With the rapid ageing of Europe’s populations and longer life expectancies, extending working lives is becoming a key political priority. There is a need to combat cultural attitudes against working beyond a certain age, and 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
Adequate legislation against age discrimination in employment exists but this is not in itself enough to help retain older workers in employment nor to delay the average effective retirement age. Incentives need to be implemented which address the range of reasons which lead people to retire early so as to retain older workers in employment. Active labour market policies targeting this specific age group are also 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. The situation of older women who need to combine paid employment with caring responsibilities for dependent relatives is an area of particular concern.
Belinda Pyke, Director for Equality in the European Commission, who also participated in this conference session, once again praised the great cooperation with NGOs, especially AGE, in the provision of evidence which exists on age discrimination. She commented that AGE’s contribution on insurance had been particularly helpful.
The slides of Ms Mestheneos’s presentation are available here.