iga: My next occupation - personnel development for occupations of limited duration

Project No. BGAG 484004


completed 12/2009


Vocations associated with high physical and mental stresses in particular are frequently pursued only for a limited time. Traditional prevention approaches are aimed at retaining employees' ability to work in their existing vocations, and must always be given priority. This project supplements these approaches, however, with a new concept: facilitating a change, in good time, to an alternative job or vocation. One way of retaining employees' fitness for work as they age and of reducing the consequential costs to employees, employers and insurance institutions is for the employees concerned to change job or vocation before the onset of work-related disorders and impairments to performance. This project pursues the objective of supporting careers advice, personnel selection, training and personnel development in companies. In the first stage, answers are sought to the following question: what vocations or vocational groups exhibit an increased risk of employees having to leave them prematurely? In the second stage, the following question is posed for a selected vocational group: what requirements must be met by careers advice and by the selection and development of personnel in order for reduced performance, premature abandonment of the vocation, early retirement and unemployment in old age to be prevented? The question considers the crossroads facing employees at any point in their careers: both the choice of vocation, and changes in vocation. One key aspect of the project is the description of career paths which keep employees in the selected vocational group fit for work through to retirement age. In a third step, the experience gained during the model project is used to create generic strategies for careers advice and for personnel selection and development for other vocational groups at risk. The project has already been trialled in two model vocations (in-patient nursing care and road workers/civil engineering workers). For the next model vocation, the group of cleaning vocations will be studied. The third model project is funded by the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA). Emphasis lies upon developing means of enabling employees to remain longer in their vocations; facilitating transitioning to the next vocation; and, in particular, practical implementation of the advice concept in a cleaning business.


The method adopted by the project involves the conducting of searches in literature and data, and the analysis of statistics, job advertisements and training concepts. At the heart of the study are interviews with jobholders, individuals who have changed vocations, training managers, personnel managers, occupational physicians, OSH professionals and rehabilitation advisers.


In in-patient nursing, patient focus, personal responsibility, observance of business principles, interdisciplinary co-operation and intercultural competence were among the requirements identified. Sleep disorders, general states of fatigue and vague cardiovascular complaints were most frequently stated as early-warning indicators. According to the women interviewed themselves, reasons for their change of job or vocation were, above all, insufficient mental challenges, coupled with a lack of opportunities for development, physical stresses, and social conflicts with colleagues and patients. The vocational biographies of those who had successfully changed vocation were similar in that they had already changed jobs several times, had actively sought opportunities to learn, and had obtained additional qualifications at their own initiative. Those who had successfully changed vocation show a high level of satisfaction in their new vocation. Work in their new vocation is marked among other things by all-round fulfilment, responsibility, flexibility in the management of time, scope for vocational development, and recognition. The aim of the project is to use the results obtained for the model vocations in order to develop concepts for advice and for personnel development which prepare employees in at-risk vocations at an early stage for a change in job or vocation. For our first model project for example, in in-patient nursing, we developed a career matrix for careers advice.

Last Update:

2 May 2016


Financed by:
  • Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung e. V. (DGUV) im Rahmen der Initiative Gesundheit und Arbeit (iga)
Research institution(s):
  • BGAG - Institut Arbeit und Gesundheit der Deutschen Gesetzlichen Unfallversicherung

-cross sectoral-

Type of hazard:

qualification/basic and further training, work-related diseases, work-related health hazards


work and age, demography, physical strain/stress

Description, key words:

occupations of limited duration, early retirement, older employees, nursing, personnel development, change in occupation, road workers and civil engineering workers, cleaning professions