The Policy Context and Rationale for the Project
Until very recently there has been little attention given to the employment needs of older workers and to the widespread practice of encouraging the early exit of older workers from the labour force and discouragement of older workers to remain in or re-enter the labour force. There is now growing awareness of the potential contribution that older workers could make to economic development by continuing in the labour force up to and beyond the retirement age. At EU level there has been a range of initiatives to encourage older workers to remain or re-enter the workforce through greater flexibility in working arrangements including more concern for work life balance, further and more specific training opportunities and flexible pension arrangements to promote gradual retirement.
There has been little effort so far in Ireland to develop policies and practices in relation to these issues under the Provisions for Positive Action for people over 50 under the Employment Legislation. The trend towards early retirement and greater life expectancy has led to a growing gap between the exit from the labour market and the receipt of State pensions. The purpose of this project was to explore ways in which this gap might be productively and creatively closed in ways that meet the needs and circumstances of an increasingly diverse ageing population.
The overall aim of this project which was funded under the EQUAL Programme of the European Social Fund was to explore new ways of supporting the development, recruitment and retention of older workers through local partnerships involving older workers and job seekers, employers and recruitment agencies, and to disseminate the results in order to influence future employment policies and practices. The project started in January 2006 and was completed in May 2009. The main partners were: PARTAS, Age Action Ireland Ltd, FÁS, ICTU and South Dublin Chamber and the project was based in South Dublin County.
Its main objectives were:
To develop an effective working partnership through which the individual partners bring their collective experience and competence to bear and engage with other relevant actors in order to further policy and practice in relation to the employment of older people.
To research the issues affecting the current and future participation of older workers in employment.
To identify employer attitudes, behaviours and experiences of employing older people and to identify the experience, attitudes, and behaviour of older workers and employment agencies in relation to current and future participation of older workers in employment.
To develop local partnerships involving older workers and job seekers, employers, recruitment agencies and trade unions to explore new ways of supporting the development, recruitment and retention of older workers at local level.
To design, develop and implement a range of interventions with a view to influence the recruitment and retention of older people.
To provide evidence with a view to influencing policy and practice in relation to the recruitment, employment and retention of older people.
To disseminate and mainstream the project results to influence policy and practice and to combat ageism in the labour market.
To actively participate in an international programme under EQUAL