Why did we start this project? What are the needs we plan to address?
It was on Sep 13th of 2016 when the EU Parliament voted in Strasbourg the Resolution 2016/2017 on creating labour market conditions favourable for work-life balance, fostering quality employment and supporting smart working as an approach to organizing work. Since then, the incidence of flexible workers, ‘teleworking tsunami’ has been growing, varying substantially in the EU28 (June 2020): Belgium (66%), Slovenia (33%), France (55%), Poland (38%) and Sweden (46%) [Eurofound ILO].
A number of laws have been issued on national levels, but there is no doubt that digital distance working has never been such a hot topic worldwide as nowadays, since the pandemic of coronavirus has led to its largest mass exercise, with significant impacts on the employability and work-life-stress balance agenda.
The group of workers particularly touched by this unexpected change are senior adults (aged 50+), a treasured source of talent for organizations and companies across the globe. During decades of their professional occupation, they groomed important professional experience, skills, and values (loyalty, reliability, commitment, high standards of relations and a strong work ethic) contributing to the success and development of their companies.
Since COVID-19 has accelerated the digital shift, some older workers with insufficient digital skills experience longer working hours and negative effects on their health and well-being. Some of them lacking access to previous training opportunities to improve their digital capacity and understanding were left behind on the wrong side of the digital divide. Therefore, the pandemic-related and simultaneously ongoing global digital transition is for them a stressful change perceived often as a risk to their professional development and employability.
Afraid of losing their jobs 10-15 years before retirement, they are afraid to request necessary training from employers which makes them vulnerable as they are not only falling out of touch with a new professional world but also put their professional future and employability at risk.
Even though it is more economical and effectual to train current 50+ employees for the new skills prerequisite for digital transformation and distance working than obtaining new employees necessitating more resource and money to train and acquire other skills conditioning their future professional performance, numerous companies prefer to hire young employees, fully equipped in digital competences.
The DIG-AGE+ project was created to respond to the needs of 50+ employees in terms of digital upskilling. Equipping 50+ workers with necessary digital skills is compulsory to secure their employability, professional performance and further development.
What do we want to achieve by implementing the project?
The project is aimed to give people opportunities to learn at any stage in life and targets both skilled professionals as well as less-experienced workers aged 50 and older, including those looking for a professional change and novel job opportunities.
Furthermore, the project is aimed to enhance:
- digital skills by developing a flexible ICT-based learning environment and by providing specific training on digital skills necessary to improve professional performance as dealt with by the EU DigComp Framework, such as communication and collaboration, safety and problem-solving skills;
- entrepreneurial skills, including creativity, critical thinking and problem solving, by taking advantage of the EU EntreComp Framework and providing specific training contents and resources;
- skills and competences needed to promote sustainable development and sustainable, inclusive and equal working approaches, so as to meet UN SDGS 4, 5 and 8 (Agenda 2030, 2015), and personal, social and learning to learn competence (EU Council, 2018).
What activities are we going to implement in the project?
Raising awarness of companies
Making companies aware of the challenge faced by their aged workforce and encourage them to define potential employees that may be in this situation (using analytics to detect employees’ discrepancies and define or categorize specific digital skills gap). Preparing companies to accompany senior employees to upskilling their digital competencies.
Encouraging an open attitude of senior employees and their employers who will be able to recognize the need of digital upskilling, create training opportunities, and benefit from a relevant training offer
Maintaing the senior friendly working environment
Assuring a friendly environment allowing senior employees to fell comfortably and avoid unnecessary stress related to the need of upskilling.
Encouraging and animating consultations with business sectors and intergenerational exchanges:
- To address the digital training needs of senior employees including a disadvantaged group of senior employees
- To foster seniors’ professional development and inclusion securing their employability
- To boost independent distance working and to maintain the physical and mental health of senior employees
- To raise the effectiveness of senior employees, companies’ performance and therefore to positively impact the local, national, and European economies
- To promote innovation as an indispensable part of the professional development of the senior workforce
- To raise awareness of the professional integration and development of the ageing workforce in the post-pandemic labor market and in the society itself, as acquiring new skills reduces the risk of professional exclusion and promotes intergenerational communication (bridging the digital gap between generations)
What project results and other outcomes do we expect our project to have?
Desk research mapping out the current professional profiles. Deep analyses and evaluation of current needs of the ageing workforce and the companies. Results of this research will be published online.
E-learning virtual platform as a comprehensive model dedicated to both the ageing workforce and their employers. It will come out with an assessment tool useful for monitoring results and impacts of the proposed training on both direct target groups and indirect target groups (employers, managers, other workers and staff members), including impacts produced on MSMEs, with recorded encouraging effects on their digital transition.
Training package: guidebooks and e-learning material. The training materials will be developed in relation to the needs of companies and the ageing workforce. The whole content of the training package will be accessible in 6 European languages (EN, PL, FR, NL, SL, FI). A manual will also be provided for future online platform’ users.
An innovative online training will be based on (distance) learning modules that can help feel more confident in using ICT technologies and tools at work and work more efficiently. The proposed content and learning methodologies will be interactive and innovative.
A numerous case studies & good practices will be included in the training along with links to quality external materials, evaluation tests, and interesting training materials elaborated within other relevant projects.
Independent training modules will allow an independent learning scheme. Also self-assessment tools will be offered before and after the training module(s) allowing learners to measure their progress.
Company guide explaining the need and benefits from upskilling the ageing workforce, and the advantages of proposed digital training. The guidebook will also present European case studies & good practices examples, statistics; suggest external informative materials; propose a methodological framework for improving the digital skills of a senior employee. All this to support local and EU MSMEs moving to a resource-based approach to reach sustainable competitive advantages in the global marketplace.