Sideways career moves

Project No. IAG 420009


completed 03/2015


Demographic change is leading – and not only in Germany – to shifts in the age structure of the workforce and to a clear shortage of skilled personnel. The German government has responded by raising the statutory retirement age. As we are already observing however, certain occupations cannot be performed healthily through to the statutory retirement age, owing to the associated stresses. It may be worth preparing the affected individuals in advance for a change to an occupation that is associated with lower or different stresses than the existing occupation, thereby enabling them to remain gainfully employed through to the statutory retirement age. A sideways career move that considers not only the adverse impacts upon health, but also experience, skills and preferences, can enable the affected individuals employability to be retained or even enhanced. This will enable workers to remain in employment through to retirement age and will safeguard their standard of living. Companies will retain valuable skilled personnel.

A "digital roadmap" was to be developed for the purpose of identifying suitable alternative occupations.


In the first phase of the project, running from December 2011 to June 2012, a feasibility study was conducted. This was followed by creation of a detailed concept document and by its implementation in the first instance as a prototype for the search instrument. During the further project term from July 2012 to January 2015, a digital roadmap was programmed as an IT application, and tested. The purpose of the digital roadmap is firstly to provide information on demographic change for the two intended target groups, namely "worker" and "small or medium-sized enterprise". Secondly, it contains the tool with which suitable alternative occupations can be identified.

The project was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) within the New Quality of Work Initiative (INQA) and with the support of experts at the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA).


Within the project, a digital roadmap was developed in the form of a portal providing information relating to demographic change. It also provides a search facility for suitable alternative occupations. An integrated IT instrument contains a database of occupational profiles. A person looking for an alternative occupation creates their own personal profile by completing an electronic questionnaire. The search itself is performed by comparison of the properties of the personal profile with those of the occupational profiles. A specially developed algorithm is used for this purpose. The properties considered in the profiles can be divided into three categories: qualifications, preferences and health. The result is a list of suitable alternative occupations, ranked by match level. The IT instrument also permits detailed analysis of the results.

The proposed alternative occupations constitute preliminary information that cannot and are not intended to replace a personal consultation, which should follow. The digital roadmap is intended to draw attention to the problem of occupations of limited duration and to generate interest in a change of occupation. The database contains, in structured form, 522 occupational profiles representing all current recognized trades in Germany and including 17 profiles of occupations requiring further training.

Last Update:

27 Jul 2015


Financed by:
  • Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung e. V. (DGUV)
Research institution(s):
  • Institut für Arbeit und Gesundheit der Deutschen Gesetzlichen Unfallversicherung (IAG)
  • BG BAU - Berufsgenossenschaft der Bauwirtschaft
  • Berufsgenossenschaft Holz und Metall (BGHM)
  • Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Sozialordnung (BMAS)

-cross sectoral-

Type of hazard:

questions beyond hazard-related issues, design of work and technology, muliple exposures multiple strain


work and age, information system, small and medium-sized enterprises

Description, key words:

older employees, early retirement, change of occupation, horizontal career paths, personnel development, IT instrument