The world of work in the context of demographic change

Model workplace in assembly work

Owing to demographic change in the European industrialized countries, which is the subject of much discussion, increasing numbers of employees will have to work to an older age before retiring. "Remaining fit for work longer" is therefore a prevention target on which businesses increasingly require advice. The IAG has addressed this subject in several projects on behalf of the accident insurance institutions in Research and consultancy, Training and Events. In some cases, the issues have been addressed within the Initiative Health and Work. A selection of the activities is presented here:

Research and consultancy

Based upon analyses of changes in people's strengths and weaknesses as they age, model workplaces were developed in the areas of assembly and VDU work. These workplaces were set up and trialled in consideration of the findings of basic research in the areas of ergonomics and human factors. It was found that the majority of impairments occurring in old age were already compensated for by good ergonomic design. Beyond this principle, only a small number of special measures are required in order to adapt the workplaces to the needs of older employees. Design for the needs of older employees also benefits their younger colleagues. The consequence is therefore: prevention for all generations.

  • Occupations which make high physical demands (such as the construction and metal trades) consequently lead to early retirement or to unemployment among older employees as a result of work- related stresses more frequently than do other occupations. A realistic strategy for the selection of suitable applicants is therefore drawn up for the businesses, together with comprehensive, targeted vocational counselling. This enables the requirements profile of the occupation to be compared to the applicant's performance, and recommendations for retraining to be made as early as possible. This is the aspect addressed by the iga project entitled "My next occupation – occupations of limited duration".
  • The strategy described in the "My next occupation" project was extended in the INQA "Horizontal career change" project, which is aimed at presenting older employees with new opportunities. As part of this project, a digital roadmap was developed that provides the individual employee and companies with information on the subject of demographics. The heart of the digital roadmap is an IT instrument for identifying suitable alternative occupations. When it can be anticipated that – despite preventive measures – health issues will prevent the employee from remaining in their current occupation through to retirement, this instrument supports searches for a new occupation suitable for a change in career.
  • iga barometer 2013: The representative survey, in which approximately 2,000 employees were consulted regarding the importance they attached to work and their estimation of it, was conducted for the fourth time. It asked the question: "Can you imagine doing your current job until you are 65 or 67?" Altogether, 48.7% replied that they could certainly imagine doing so. This also means however that half of the employees had their reservations. The iga.Barometer had already been conducted in 2004, 2007 and 2010. Trends can therefore be observed in the replies. Between 2004 and 2010, the proportion of women answering the above question with "Yes" rose by five percent; in 2013, the proportion fell again. Among male employees, the value has remained largely constant at between 50 and 51%. The figures are broken down further in the iga.Report 26 by age, school-leaving qualifications and occupations.

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Dr. Hanna Zieschang
Tel.: +49 30 13001-2240