BSLF for Sustainable Working Life Policy Brief Series

Women in the age group 55+ face particular challenges related to remaining in working life, one of them is 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.

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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. The second Baltic Sea Labour Forum for 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. 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.

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Age discrimination is still predominant at workplaces despite anti-discrimination laws in place in almost every country. Here we look at different aspects of age discrimination, its sources, as well as its effects on both individuals and organisations in the labour market. We include perspectives from Sweden, Finland, and Belarus. In Sweden, our example shows how researchers collaborate with human resources professionals to introduce age management practices in workplaces. A good practice from Finland provides us with an example of how older workers become empowered to fight age discrimination at work.

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Poor health is the most common reason for early retirement in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). Here we look at patterns in the BSR in terms of self-perceived health status of workers aged 55+, incidence of disability pensions and working despite a chronic illness. We look at how research links health and working conditions and how taking a gender perspective related to work and health is of crucial importance. We include country perspectives from Latvia, Sweden and Finland and emphasise the importance of age management and a life-course perspective for policy development in this area.

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In our knowledge society, educational systems are challenged with keeping up with changing demands for skills and competencies in the labour market due to technological development and digitalisation. For the design of relevant educational investments, one needs to look into the future. Here we look at what research forecasts when it comes to changing employment structures, the effects of technology on different job categories and what professions, skills and competencies will be in demand in the future. For policy development, access to continuous learning and skills upgrade, focus on vulnerable groups and provision of opportunities to transition within occupations will be key.

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Academic staff is among the occupation groups with later labour market exits worldwide than most other occupations. It seems that academia creates a favourable working environment for older individuals, convincing them to remain longer in the labour force. Here we analyse features of the job of an academic teacher – its tasks, the position itself, and employer characteristics – to explain this phenomenon. We identify incentives for prolonging working life that may apply to older workers and guide employers also in other occupational groups than academia.

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Prolonging working life is linked to the sustainability of public finances, economic growth and not the least, social cohesion. However, institutional incentives to leave the labour market early remain high. Here, we look at the effects of economic downturns on older workers’ choice to leave the labour market and we compare the effects of two pre-retirement schemes in Denmark and Poland. An analysis of public
employment services for persons who wish to work beyond official retirement age in these two countries leads to the conclusion that this age group is neglected. Our recommendation is that public employment services should be available to everyone, regardless of age and eligibility.

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