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The EC´s Council for Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs adopts conclusions regarding the response to be given to demographic challenges

13/08/2012
The EC´s Council for Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs adopts conclusions regarding the response to be given to demographic challenges © Alex Proimos | Flickr

The European Union’s Council for Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs (EPSCO Council) adopted on June 21st in Luxembourg conclusions regarding the response to be given to demographic challenges through enhanced participation in the labour market and society.

In its document of conclusions, the EPSCO Council notes that 2012 is the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations and stresses the need “to increase active participation in society before and after retirement and promote independent, healthy and dignified living.” “Raising awareness of the ageing process is essential to understanding intergenerational solidarity and enabling mutual exchange of experience between generations. ‘Solidarity between Generations’ means inter alia that everyone – young and old – is expected to and must have the chance to actively participate in our European societies.”

The Council also points out that Governments and businesses need to adapt to changes in the available workforce and “address the need to provide adequate and accessible products and services and adapt working and living conditions to an ageing population.”

Due to variation of the nature, scale and pace of the demographic trends from one country to another one, there is no "one size fits all" policy response. However, the Council invites the Member States to take actions and find solutions in key areas related to older persons, such as:

  • together with social partners, support measures for older workers with a view to helping them stay employed or re-integrate them into the labour market and foster the existence of inclusive labour markets that continue to provide job opportunities to older workers;
  • reduce the risk of unemployment and social exclusion among older workers by facilitating access to appropriate advice and guidance, effective training and life-long learning, including from public employment services and other appropriate institutions;
  • ensure the recognition of skills and competencies and enhance the job search intensity of unemployed older persons;
  • promote the growth of the "silver economy" in view of its positive impact on the demand for goods and services as well as on the development of new job opportunities and independent living;
  • create more flexible working conditions for older persons that take into account their special needs, promote safe, healthy and accessible workplaces, remove barriers to learning and training for older workers and provide incentives and special programmes focussed on updating their skills;
  • increase the intergenerational exchange of skills and better use of mentoring schemes in the working process;
  • actively promote, in cooperation with relevant stakeholders, improvements in accessibility of goods and services as well as innovative assistive technologies, devices and services that are specifically suitable for the elderly and can therefore help them to live independent, healthy and physically active lives;
  • support elderly people in participating actively in civil society and promote measures aimed at inter-generational cooperation and dialogue; and
  • enhance independent living by offering adequate training and rehabilitation measures which are conducive to an independent life.

Anne-Sophie Parent, AGE Platform Secretary-General, has welcomed these conclusions. “The EU needs to invest in its human capital of all generations and to foster longer and flexible working lives as well as life-long learning opportunities for women and men”, she said, and reminded that “policies to increase the labour market participation of older people, in particular women, are essential.”

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