Voices from the regions: “Opportunities of demographic change” was the key theme of the 2nd regional conference held in Linz, Upper Austria

The regional conference “Opportunities of demographic change,” organized under the Upper Austrian pilot, took place in Siemens Forum in Linz on 30th October 2013. In total 67 participants - experts, employees, employers, employee representatives, network partners ‘Winning Age. Getting Future!’ and further persons involved in and interested in activities towards promotion of active ageing on regional leve – participated in this second regional conference.

The conference was opened by Dr. Josef Moser, MBA (Director of Chamber of Labour Upper Austria) and by Mag. Roland Hanak, MAS (Head of the administrative department for bilateral and labour market related cooperation, BMASK). They both stated that intensive cooperation within the international project “CE-Ageing Platform” is a contribution to the development of manifold activities and measures encountering demographic challenges, which have been prevalent in all Central European countries.

Thus, Chamber of Labour Upper Austria (AKOÖ) fosters measures and activities towards age-appropriate workplaces and working-conditions enabling sustainable integration of elderly into the labour market. The assurance of equal opportunities for participation in society and in the labour market is a crucial value of AKOÖ activities. This is also the reason why, the network ‘Winning Age. Getting Future!’ has been active in boosting active ageing in Upper Austria with manifold and joint activities. The activities of the network have started in 2004 and include social partners, Upper Austrian institutions, organisations and companies. In this context, the network ‘Winning Age. Getting Future!’ was embedded in the CE-Ageing Platform, cooperating, exchanging knowledge with network partners beyond the boundaries and developing joint guidelines and measures for Upper Austria.

The German expert, Ms. Margaret Heckel, a journalist and also an author of the book “The midlife-boomer: Why it has been never so exciting to get older?”, states at the conference manifold reasons stressing the benefits of the demographic development. From her point of view, it is a chance and good opportunity to benefit from the current demography which also results in longer and healthier lives.  Anyway, we still have to get rid of prevalent prejudices being able to deal with changes in a positive way. Ms.  Heckel highlighted few advices to companies, who can also benefit from the current demographic developments as well, if:
  • Elderly are trained to skilled personnel offering programmes for Senior Azubis, Senior-Trainees and Midlife-Boomers.
  • Flexible work schedule is offered and life-oriented staffing plans are developed.
  • The production is adjusted to the demographic development enabling elderly workers to work until 67. The positive and unexpected side-effect is that also younger workers benefit from this aspect.
  • A healthy working environment is created with embedded health management.
And there are indeed companies which are supporting active ageing and the work-ability of their employees. The company Geberit is a good best practice-example. Mag. Sonja Lahner (Head of personnel department) presented the company’s incentives and activities. Increasing average-age of the workforce and the mix of the represented generations, which is also prevalent in many other companies, is one of the motivations. The focus of the company is to enhance the work-ability using the program fit2work including all age groups and include:
  • Awareness raising activities and implementation of the programme in 2012.
  • Sustainable implementation having AB Coaching for employers, ABI-Interviews with employees, dialogues or the development of ‘Vital-Catalog’, taking health into account in  2013.
  • Training, adjustment of work schedule for parents and elderly employees as well as the adjustment of personal working places.
The experts, discussing on podium of the 2nd regional conference in Linz,  agreed that we need better working conditions and more age-appropriate workplaces in order to enable a longer and better stay in the working life.

More photos from regional conference are available at: http://www.cityfoto.at/galerie/9439/

Mirna Prebanda, LP, Chamber of Labour Upper Austria

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