Author: BSLF

The importance of digital and ICT skills development for longer working lives in the age group 55+ and how to bridge the digital divide

The second Sustainable Working Life project policy brief in the series on prolonging working life looks at the age group 55+ in countries in the Baltic Sea Region. ICT proficiency, the ability to use digital technology and communication tools, is essential for a growing number of jobs today and for accessing services in daily life. Some groups, such as older workers, risk being left behind. We examine determinants of the digital divide in terms of age, educational attainment, and geography. We present perspectives from Finland, Lithuania, and Belarus. In Finland, our example shows how ICT skills training can be effectively integrated at workplaces.

Taking a Gender Perspective on Early Retirement and Work-life Balance

The first Sustainable Working Life project policy brief in the series of eigth is out today! Read it now and subscribe to the newsletter to be the first to receive new policy briefs as they come out.

The policy briefs are the outcome of the discussions and months of work of our Sustainable Working Life Project multi-national and multi-disciplinary Thematic Working Groups made up of experts from around the Baltic Sea Region.

This policy brief looks at the conditions of women in the age group 55+ who face particular challenges related to remaining in working life – one of them finding a work/life balance. Here we look at the situation in the countries in the Baltic Sea Region, including closer perspectives from Poland, Sweden and Lithuania. Our focus is on women’s care-giving duties and the implications of women’s dual roles in the domestic and professional spheres on health, well-being, economic situation, and decision to retire early. We examine different caregiving models and argue that these can play a crucial role in both supporting and preventing women from remaining in working life longer.

See one of our Thematic Working Group experts Sonia Buchholtz – Economic Expert at Lewiatan and Researcher at the Warsaw School of Economics – summarising the situation in the Baltic Sea Region:

Introducing: Baltic Sea Labour Forum for Sustainable Working Life policy brief series

The Baltic Sea Labour Forum is releasing eight policy briefs as part of the Sustainable Working Life project concerning gender, age (and more!) within the labour force. These policy briefs are relevant now as ever due to the aging population and shrinking younger generation. The policy briefs will aim to show results from working groups and promote Baltic Sea Region cooperation within the labour market.

Learn more about it from the Project Officer Josefina Halme:

To receive the briefs, subscribe to the newsletter:

Baltic Sea Labour Forum Co-ordination Group Meeting

CBSS Labour Ministry and employer/employee and trade organisation representatives will gather virtually on Monday for a discussion on current developments in the labour markets in their respective countries/organisations and the progress of the ongoing “Sustainable Working Life” project.

The labour markets everywhere are experiencing extraordinary changes and collaboration in the area will be necessary to ensure employment sustainability in the future. Despite the partners of Sustainable Working Life project not being able to meet physically as planned, the two Thematic Working Groups focusing on Age Management and Working Conditions and Job opportunities and Entrepreneurship have met in online workshops to continue working on policy recommendations for a more sustainable and inclusive labour market.

Conference: Future work and provisions of Lifelong Learning systems in the context of an ageing labour force

Given the global measures against the spread of COVID-19, the BSLF Annual Roundtable “Future work and provisions of Lifelong Learning systems in the context of an ageing labour force” and the BSLF Coordination Group Meeting in St. Petersburg have been postponed to late autumn. The time of the conference is preliminary and may change, we will update this page as soon as more information is available. We are still very much looking forward to the opportunity of seeing you all in St. Petersburg in due course!

This year’s Baltic Sea Labour Forum’s Annual Roundtable comes in an extended format and will feature a conference focusing on the future of work and lifelong learning provisions in the context of the demographic challenges that many states in the Baltic Sea Region now face.

The conference is organised in cooperation with Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of the Russian Federation and St. Petersburg Committee of Labour and Employment and is developed within the framework of the “Sustainable Working Life” project. Expected at the conference are Baltic Sea Region stakeholders in the areas of labour and employment, including North-Western Russia and Belarus, representing trade unions, employers’ organisations and government or regional authorities. The upcoming conference is directly linked to the Sustainable Working Life project and organised with support from the Swedish Institute.

Find the preliminary programme here.

The BSLF Sustainable Working Life project reaches its implementation phase

On 14 -15 November 2019, the Thematic Working Groups (TWGs) of the BSLF for Sustainable Working Life project, the project team of the CBSS Secretariat, as well as invited speakers and experts gathered at the CBSS Secretariat in Stockholm to launch the project’s implementation phase.

This event marks the beginning of the work of the two TWGs – Age Management and Working Conditions (I) and Future Job Opportunities for an Ageing Work Force, including Entrepreneurship(II), supported by expertise in Lifelong Learning and Active Ageing. The TWGs will identify good practices and assess ongoing initiatives to come up with actionable policy recommendations to better address the demographic challenge of ageing populations and lower fertility rates and its effects on the labour markets in the Baltic Sea Region. The TWGs will further focus on finding measures to strengthen synergies between education and employment for people aged 55+ in order to meet the skills and requirements of the future labour market.

This was the first occasion for all the members of the two TWGs to meet: they come from nine different countries, comprising a diverse group of experts representing employers’ organisations, trade unions, government and academia experienced in the areas of active ageing and lifelong learning.

To kick things off and ensure synergies in our work, the members of the TWGs were provided with relevant information about the project’s alignment with the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, the EU Pillars of Social Rights and ESF horizontal principles of equality, non-discrimination and accessibility – these are the underlying values of the project.

.See more moments from the meeting here

With so many likeminded and knowledgeable people coming together around a common issue that concerns the whole Baltic Sea Region, there was a high level of motivation and engagement in the workshops of the TWGs during the event. Having laid the grounds for continuing work, the members were able to establish the activities of the project in terms of co-creation processes and priorities of the themes of the project.

The TWGs will focus, among other things, on labour mobility and smooth transition between positions later in life; will examine what “work” means to different people in order to better promote lifelong learning; what skills are necessary to enable people to meet the requirements of the future job market and to remain in work later in life and what conditions facilitate their development; as well as investigate the many internal and external factors that affect the decision-making process when considering staying in the labour market from a multi-stakeholder perspective (individuals, organisations, governments, etc).

Our project is turning a challenge into an opportunity: Sustainable Working Life, through the elements of Active Ageing and Lifelong Learning at its core, will propose recommendations for adapting and improving working conditions, skills development and provisions of adult education in order to support people in engaging and remaining in work throughout an extended working life.

High Level Labour Ministries Meeting

High-Level Meeting of the Council of the Baltic Sea States Ministers of Labour and Social Affairs took place on the 26th of August, during the 28th Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference in Oslo, Norway.

As a continuation of the successful meeting of the ministers and high-ranking representatives of the labour ministries two years ago in Berlin, the representatives met again to discuss the follow-up and implementation of the Berlin Declaration, focusing on the future of work, demographic challenges and sustainable inclusive labour market in the Baltic Sea region. The representatives provided the vision and strategy for the future of working life on national and the Baltic Sea region’s level.


Ms. Ramona Petravica, Minister of Welfare of Latvia. Photo: The Storting
Amb. Maira Mora, Director General of CBSS. Photo: The Storting
Mr. Pyry Niemi, Swedish Parliament, BSPC rapporteur on labour issues. Photo: The Storting

Our Director General Ambassador Maira Mora and Pyry Niemi, BSPC rapporteur on labour issues, opened the meeting where representatives of the Ministries of Labour took a stand on the issues defined in Berlin Declaration, focusing on the future of work, demographic challenges and sustainable inclusive labour market in the Baltic Sea region. The representatives agreed that the Berlin Declaration was still very much relevant, especially when it comes to regional cooperation: even though there is no one fix for the whole region, exchanging national experiences can be beneficial in developing solutions.

Baltic Sea Region’s stakeholders (such as the CBSS, Baltic Sea Labour Forum (BSLF), BSPC, European Union for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) Policy Area Education) also shared current developments in the field of labour and employment. CBSS’ Baltic Sea Labour Forum presented our latest, European Social Fund financed Sustainable Working Life initiative, aiming to review current data and develop future forecasts to provide evidence-based policy guidelines.

The meeting was followed by the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference (BSPC), that also included a session on the future of work in the Baltic Sea Region.

The Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference brought together about 200 parliamentarians from 27 parliaments and parliamentary organisation to promote cooperation between state and non-state institutions – especially with the Council of the Baltic Sea States. The conference serves as a forum for discussion and information exchange between parliaments and governments as well as other bodies and organisations at the international and inter-regional level.

See more photos from the events here.

Annual BSLF Roundtable 2019

BSLF Round table
BSLF Round Table Participants

On March 18-19, in Hamburg, Germany, the Annual Meeting of the Baltic Sea Labour Forum (BSLF) took place. Employer organizations together with trade unions from the countries around the Baltic Sea, as well as representatives from the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference (BSPC), ministries and other stakeholders joined forces with the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) to discuss the most topical issues on sustainable working life in the Region.

One of the highlights of the meeting was the European Social Fund supported project – Sustainable Working Life – that is being newly launched for the benefit of all Baltic Sea countries and managed by the CBSS.

With this project, the Baltic Sea Labour Forum countries, together with the Max Planck Institute, aim to take specific and constructive steps towards improving conditions in the Baltic Sea Region to enable older persons to reap the benefits of, and contribute towards social and economic viability in the region through greater participation in the work force and through entrepreneurship.

Some of the reports presented at the round table included:

Johannes Schraps, Member of the German Bundestag, Päivi Hämäläinen of the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Work and Gender Equality and Olga Korchemkina of the Russian Ministry for Labour and Employment also contributed.

For more information, contact Daria Akhutina, Senior Policy Advisor at the Council of the Baltic Sea States:

Introducing the “Baltic Sea Labour Forum for Sustainable Working Life (BSLF-SWL)” Project

The CBSS was granted funds from the European Social Fund for the three-year project “Baltic Sea Labour Forum for Sustainable Working Life (BSLF-SWL)”

The overarching aim of the project is to improve working life conditions and life-long learning provisions, systems and policies for older persons in order to promote active ageing and employability.

The project will address three issues, crucial for the socio-economic development of the countries in the Baltic Sea Region –  the Demographic challenge, Active ageing and Life Long Learning (LLL). Underpinned by cutting edge research, demographic and labour market forecasts, the project will identify the issues as well as good practices and technological developments in the Baltic Sea Region. The practices will be evaluated, developed and innovated by Thematic Working Groups (TWG) and Knowledge Platforms from a “future work” and “qualifications needed” perspective. Of course, all of our Member States are different and we will be paying close attention to socio-economic and socio-cultural conditions. We are also fortunate to have two non-EU Member States (Russian Federation and Iceland) to broaden our perspective with additional inputs and contrasting views.

There will be 4 TWGs dealing with (1) Lifelong learning and knowledge transfer between generations/ mutual knowledge transfer between younger and elder professionals; (2) Working conditions/age management; (3) Job opportunities for ageing labour force, including Entrepreneurship; (4) Research and comprehensive Labour Market (LM)

The Thematic Working Groups will deliver:

  • Existing good practices and methods supporting a sustainable working life
  • Identified system/policy gaps to be approached
  • Incorporation of validated and screened good practices and methods
  • Developed new methods/models/tools/mechanisms
  • Policy recommendations

The main actions for the project process:

  • To compile facts and figures and to develop forecasts and research modalities on demographic, economic, labour market and technological change in the MSs concerned and in the macro region as a whole, better adapted to comparability to the issues at stake and to broader societal challenges. An upgraded picture of the gender based differences/inequalities as well as the discrimination of certain target groups in relation to active ageing and LLL is a crucial priority for this endeavor;
  • The improvement of policies, systems, methods and practices in the field of promotion of active ageing and a target group adapted and innovative LLL: the activities will be further defined and fine-tuned in the preparation phase, in close cooperation with the project partners and associates. The objectives, methods and outcomes/deliveries as well as the organizational structure and assignments for the transnational partners and associated partners/experts are presented in the proposal;
  • By developing and using the specific tools and mechanisms for the project work – the Flagships, Knowledge/Learning platforms and the TWGs – SWL will also contribute to awareness rising and skills development of the community of project/ESF actors and stakeholders in the BSR in relation to the EU funds and the macro regional strategies
  • CBSS/BSLF Coordination Group on Labour and Employment and with BSLF members (social partners), involved into Project, will provide direct access to decision-policy makers of BSR. It will allow to reach the immediate policy impact and contribute to the long-term holistic approach in strategic planning process in future
  • The established TWGs and their members will compile the Network of professionals for future joint actions in the field of active ageing and ageing labour force in BSR, which will also ensure the sustainability of the SWL Project’s outcomes

Current Partners: ESF’ Partner – State Employment Agency of Latvia. Representatives from all CBSS Member States are expected to be involved into implementation of the Project and its thematic working groups (TWGs)