Calling time on age discrimination

Syddanmark, Denmark; Pohja-Eesti, Estonia; Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany; Rīga, Latvia; Kauno apskritis, Šiaulių apskritis, Lithuania; Pomorskie, Zachodniopomorskie, Poland; Ovre Norrland, Västsverige, Sweden; East Anglia, United Kingdom;

Older jobseekers often find that their age and even their experience count against them when it comes to finding employment. But a European Territorial Cooperation project in the Baltic Sea region has sought to challenge the preconceptions, prejudices and the ageist recruitment practices of some employers.

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The Best Agers project has sought to help older people to gain or to remain in employment The Best Agers project has sought to help older people to gain or to remain in employment

With many countries in northern Europe currently experiencing declining birth rates and ageing populations, the so-called ‘Best Agers’ project aimed to highlight the positive effects of demographic change for both employers and employees.

Improving health means that most people remain active until an older age than was the case with previous generations and are in a position to continue working longer, either as employees, coaches, mentors or as entrepreneurs.

The project, which got underway in 2010, aimed to highlight the potential of the 55+ age group and to combat the widely-held assumption that ageing is simply a process that imposes burdens, such as healthcare and care costs, on society.

These aims were achieved by producing and publishing analyses of the potential level of economic activity of older workers and by implementing pilot initiatives in which the potential of older citizens is put to good use.

Changing attitudes to older workers

Project manager Hartwig Wagemester said that, while larger companies often had systems in place to monitor and ensure that older workers are recruited, this was often not true of small to medium sized enterprises and the problem is particularly acute for jobseekers with few qualifications. “We have found firms who work with us to implement our policies,” he said, “and they have acted as lighthouse companies for others to follow.”

It is expected that when the current project comes to an end around 70 small to medium sized enterprises, public institutions and non-governmental organisations will have taken on a ‘best ager’ in a coaching, mentoring or consulting role. In addition, it is expected that 140 mentor / mentee relationships will have been established and 60 business plans created by members of different age groups.

An example of the project’s work is the creation of a Latvian website that matches unemployed older workers from Riga with employers from the countryside. Meanwhile, in Denmark, mentors are providing support to people who have trouble entering the labour market.

A European Territorial Cooperation project, funded through the Baltic Sea Region INTERREG IV B Programme 2007-2013, the project is made up of 19 official partner organisations in Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden and the UK as well as one unofficial Russian partner. In addition there are 20 associated participating organisations from all over the Baltic Sea region.

Total and EU funding

The project “Best Agers” had a total budget of EUR 4 423 071, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 3 441 738 through the Baltic Sea Region INTERREG IV B Programme for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.

Draft date