copy the linklink copied!5. Promoting employability throughout working lives

Many barriers deter people from working longer. Some are related to employers’ willingness to retain and hire older workers (Chapter 4) but others affect older workers directly, which make it difficult for them to either stay in their existing job or find a new one. These include poor working conditions, limited training possibilities and interrupted careers earlier on in workers’ lives. The best practice for strengthening employability and job opportunities at an older age is to provide equal opportunities for workers to continuously upgrade their skills, recognise skills acquired throughout working lives and improve working conditions at all ages. This prevention strategy should be the motto of a work culture promoting longer and better working lives.


The statistical data for Israel are supplied by and under the responsibility of the relevant Israeli authorities. The use of such data by the OECD is without prejudice to the status of the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements in the West Bank under the terms of international law.

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Infographic 5.1. Employability throughout working lives
Infographic 5.1. Employability throughout working lives
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Key policy recommendations

Enhance participation in training by workers throughout their working lives by:

  • Providing guidance services and ensuring that training is adjusted to reflect the experience and learning needs of workers at different ages, including strengthening access to work-based training for those in non-standard forms of work.

  • Encouraging increased investment in skills development at mid-career and improving the attractiveness of training and its potential returns for older workers by adapting teaching and learning methods and content to their needs.

Provide effective employment assistance to jobseekers, irrespective of their age, but targeted at those groups most at risk of long-term joblessness while ensuring that older jobseekers have the same obligations as younger jobseekers for receiving unemployment benefits in terms of actively seeking a job, but also the same rights in terms of access to targeted re-employment services.

Improve working conditions through a broad-based strategy to enhance job quality for workers at all ages by: strengthening workplace safety and physical and mental health; reducing the incidence of hazardous and arduous work; and balancing professional and family responsibilities.

Promoting the employability of workers throughout their working lives is key to strengthening labour market opportunities at an older age. Older workers are a very diverse group; many do well in the labour market and are in good quality jobs, while others struggle to find and hold on to jobs, very often because their skills are insufficient or outdated. To make longer working careers possible, older people should have opportunities to develop the skills that are required in today’s labour markets and to work in environments that enhance well-being, health and productivity. For those affected by job loss later in life, effective employment services are crucial to help them back into work.

copy the linklink copied!Ensuring that older workers remain employable and productive requires a life cycle approach to prevent skill obsolescence and closing the age gap in digital technology proficiency

Jobs increasingly involve sophisticated tasks that require analysing and communicating information. The use of new digital technologies pervades all aspects of life. Hence, poor proficiency in information-processing skills not only restrains employment opportunities but also limits access to many services. More than ever, lifelong learning is of key importance for all workers in all kinds of jobs. Workers in low-technology sectors and those performing low-skilled tasks must learn to be adaptable, because they are at higher risk of losing their job, as routine tasks are increasingly performed by machines and companies may relocate to countries with lower labour costs. In high-technology sectors, workers need to update their competencies and keep pace with rapidly changing techniques.

Results from the OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) suggest that older workers across the OECD are not well equipped to deal with changes in skill requirements brought about by technological progress and globalisation. Though many countries have made considerable progress in terms of boosting the numeracy and literacy skills of the younger generations, the average level of these skills often remains low for the older age groups. On average across the OECD area, older adults (55-65 year-olds) score around 30 score points lower in literacy and numeracy than 25-34 year-olds (Figure 5.1). Many older people also exhibit lower levels of digital readiness than their children and grandchildren. On average, a third of 55-to-65 year-olds have no computer experience or fail core ICT tests and only one in ten older workers were assessed as having medium to good skills in terms of problem-solving skills in a technology-rich environment (i.e. solving problems in a simulated internet environment).

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Figure 5.1. Older workers are less well equipped to work effectively in a digital world
Figure 5.1. Older workers are less well equipped to work effectively in a digital world

Note: OECD is an unweighted average of the 30 member countries in PIAAC rounds I and 2 and excludes France, Italy and Spain in Panels C and D.

Source: OECD (2016), Skills Matter: Further Results from the Survey of Adult Skills, OECD Skills Studies, OECD Publishing, Paris,


copy the linklink copied!Adult learning is important to improve and develop new skills

Workers who regularly maintain and upgrade their competencies throughout their working lives fare better in the labour market. Upskilling, reskilling, and a greater focus on lifelong learning will be especially critical to help older workers cope with rapidly evolving skill demands due to technological progress and globalisation. However, available data from OECD countries shows that older workers continue to receive less training than other population groups thereby compounding their disadvantage.

One key factor preventing older workers from closing the skill gap with younger employees lies in the fact that the employers usually do not see the benefits of investing in the training of their employees. Older people themselves may also see little value in training if they face poor prospects of remaining much longer in work. In addition, like other groups, lack of time is still the largest barrier, particularly so in Korea, Japan and Spain. In Japan, the inconvenience of training is also cited as a major barrier while cost appears to play a major role in the United States (OECD, 2019[1]).

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Did you know?

Longer working lives should strengthen the willingness of firms to train older workers. Yet, older adults across the OECD participate far less in training than their younger counterparts. Large differences continue to persist even in some of the top performing OECD countries, including Germany Canada and France where they exceed 25 percentage points. They are the lowest in Israel, the Slovak Republic and the United States, where they are at or below 15 percentage points.

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Figure 5.2. Older adults participate in training far less than younger adults
Share of young adults and older adults in job-related training, 2011/12 or 2014/15
Figure 5.2. Older adults participate in training far less than younger adults

Note: Year 2014/15 for Chile, Greece, Israel, New Zealand, Slovenia and Turkey. OECD is an unweighted average of the countries in the chart.

Source: OECD calculations based on the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) (2012),


To encourage employers to invest in training for older employees, some countries (e.g. Australia, Germany and the Netherlands) have embarked on initiatives to reduce the cost of training older workers relative to other employees (Box 5.1). At the same time, efforts on the side of firms need to be complemented by adequate mechanisms to increase the interest and motivation of older adults to invest in their skills. In this regard, targeted career advice and guidance services can help older adults understand the benefits of learning and make informed decisions about their investment in further skill development (Box 5.1).

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Box 5.1. Policies to increase training participation among older adults

Career advice and guidance services targeted to older adults

  • In mid-2019, Australia rolled out nationally the Career Transition Assistance program for job-seekers aged 45 and above, following a trial of the program in five regions. The program combines tailored career assistance and functional digital literacy training using different types of technology.

  • In the Netherlands, workers aged 45 and more can participate in subsidised career development guidance (Ontwikkeladvies). These guidance activities help older workers understand the future prospects of their current job, and give insight into their skills profile and career opportunities. Participants develop a personal development plan that describes the actions that will be taken to ensure employment until retirement age.

  • In Korea, Job Hope Centres offer re-employment services for vulnerable individuals aged 40 and over, including counselling and guidance services for older workers who need (re)training before starting their job search and often lack the basic ICT skills needed to use online services. Almost 30 000 people benefited from this programme in 2017 (OECD, 2018[2]).

Encouraging employers to train older workers

  • In Germany, the public employment agency supports training of low-skilled and older workers in SMEs through the programme WeGebAU. SMEs receive a 75% subsidy to the training costs of workers aged 45 and older, while micro-enterprises (with less than 10 employees) receive a 100% subsidy. Evaluations of the programme find that it helps participants to increase their time spend in employment, although it has no effect on wages and the probability of receiving benefits later on (Dauth, 2017[3]).

  • In Slovenia, the “Comprehensive Support for Companies for Active Ageing of Employees Programme” provides financial incentives for employers to prepare action plans and strategies for better management of older workers as well as financial incentives for older workers for upskilling (aged above 45). Capacity building workshops for Human Resource (HR) managers and Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) are organised to build their competencies for effective HR management of ageing workforce.

The key lessons from good-practice measures for training of workers approaching the end of their career also suggest that programmes designed along the lines of an apprenticeship concept – combining short classroom sessions with a firm-based approach – are more effective for older workers, as is informal, self-determined training with a clear focus on practical, relevant work issues (OECD, 2018[4]). However, apprenticeships have traditionally focused on younger adults and only recently have countries started to promote the access of older adults to apprenticeship schemes (e.g. in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, a substantial proportion of apprentices are older adults). With the introduction of New Zealand Apprenticeship, a programme introduced in 2014, all apprentices now enjoy the same level of government support, regardless of age.

Finally, to improve digital skills of older workers and prepare them for new forms of work, some countries have started to promote the development of their ICT skills. For example, in Greece since 2012, 50plus Hellas ( has been providing free ICT training to older people with the support of a national telecommunications company and local authorities. Other countries are promoting a broader approach to adapting the skills of older workers to changing skill needs. In Germany, the programme “Corporate Values People Matter” (UnternehmensWert Mensch) was initiated in 2014, funded by the European Social Fund and the Federal Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs. The programme’s objective is to help SMEs develop future-oriented, employee-centred human resource management strategies with a particular focus on training measures to help workers prepare and adapt to the digital economy. The programme subsidises consultancy services for SMEs for up to 50% or 80% of these costs. On-site consultancies in a company may last about ten days. During its first two years, about 3 000 companies benefited from the programme, which included entrepreneurship education at schools, technical colleges and universities.

copy the linklink copied!Identifying training needs and recognition of skills are particularly valuable for older workers

The continuous adoption of new technologies and forms of work organisation are changing the skills needed in jobs and hence opportunities to train are required at all stages of working lives. Training needs are also linked to changing jobs, functions or duties within the company. But training needs are not always explicitly identified either by employers or workers themselves. Mid-career reviews, where employers organise an assessment of workers in the workplace at a mid-point in their working life, are an important tool to ensure that workers' skills continue to match the job demands, or whether for mobility reasons a change in tasks or career is required. Good practice among companies starts with identifying skills needs through dialogue with employees, e.g. through regular dialogue about performance and mid-career interviews which take a more strategic view (Box 5.2).

Skills acquired on the job and outside the formal education system should also be better recognised and made visible. Reliable procedures are needed to assess and validate people’s skills and competencies, to make skills transparent to employers, and to establish a baseline for further learning. In case of job loss, this can help workers find a matching job. This is especially important for mid-career and older workers, whose initial qualifications may be outdated. Many of them have acquired new skills and competencies in various work experiences, but most often lack certificates to prove it. However, the procedures for skill recognition should be carefully designed so that they do not become so cumbersome and lengthy as to dissuade their use.

Several countries offer good examples: the Netherlands has an instrument to validate skills acquired on the job, the Ervarings certificaat (Experience Certificate). Finland launched a new adult VET programme in 2014 for low-qualified adults aged 30-50. Portugal, a country with a large share of low-skilled workers, launched the New Opportunities Initiative (INO) in 2005, which offers skills audit to all adults (Box 5.2). In addition, in Switzerland since 2018, the federal government published a new guideline on vocational education and training whereby all Cantons and professional organisations now have common guidelines for the accreditation of prior learning.

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Box 5.2. Good-practice measures for identifying training needs and for skill recognition

Identifying training needs of mid-career and older workers

  • In the United Kingdom, the use of mid-career plans around the age of 50 was promoted as part of a pilot project carried out from 2013-2015 by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE).

  • In France, for the period 2009-2012, 18 industry-wide agreements were signed that contain career and skills development arrangements. Firms with more than 300 employees were under a three-year obligation to negotiate on forward-looking management of employment and proficiencies (called gestion prévisionnelle de l’emploi et des compétences (GPEC).

Assessing and validating skills and competencies

  • In the Netherlands, the use of the Ervaringscertificaat (Experience Certificate) increased through campaigns (television, radio and billboards) the steady diffusion of a quality code for Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL), and the development of regional partnerships for lifelong learning. The Certificate is also included as part of collective labour agreements in several sectors and is paid for by a number of training and development funds.

  • In Finland, the new adult VET programme is embedded in the system of Competence Based Qualifications, which recognises competencies acquired in a variety of ways and offers the possibility to complete a vocational upper secondary qualification, further vocational qualifications and specialist vocational qualifications as a competence-based qualification.

  • In Portugal, the New Opportunities Initiative (INO) in 2005 offers skills audit to all adults and assists in education and training or in recognition and validation of competencies. Most participants in the programme were employed workers. Evaluations found that certification had a positive impact on income and employment but only when combined with training courses.

copy the linklink copied!Promoting a good start to working life to increase employment rates

While the above measures can help narrow inequalities later in life, governments and employer and employee associations should take concerted action to overcome what may be more deeply entrenched problems. For instance, investment in early education and concentration of resources at an early age, especially disadvantaged children should be a top policy priority given education heavily influences older people’s employment opportunities and improves their access to continuous training and to skills upgrading. The strong effect of educational background over the lifetime is illustrated by the employment rates of older workers, which average 44% for low-educated older workers and 70% for those with high education (Figure 5.3).

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Figure 5.3. Low-educated older people fare less well in the labour market
Employment rates by skill level1 for persons aged 55-64, 20172
Figure 5.3. Low-educated older people fare less well in the labour market

1. Low skilled refers to below upper secondary education, Middle skilled to upper secondary or postsecondary non-tertiary education and High skilled to tertiary education.

2. Data refer to 2011 for India, 2014 for Saudi Arabia, and 2015 for Brazil, Chile and the Russian Federation.

Source: OECD Education at a Glance, 2018,


Promoting a good start for the youth in their working lives can also yield the double benefit of increasing employment rates and fighting life-long inequalities that build up early in life, resulting in old-age poverty decades later. This includes ensuring a smooth school-to-work transition by strengthening vocational education, and designing effective labour market policies to connect youths not in employment, education or training with jobs (Box 5.3).

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Box 5.3. Starting well to finish well: Policy principles

Many OECD and emerging economies face considerable challenges to ensure that young people are well integrated into the world of work. The global economic and financial crisis hit young people particularly hard, and even though labour markets have rebounded in all countries, employment rates for youth have been particularly slow to recover in a number of OECD countries.

Rising inequalities together with the changing nature of work mean that young people (i.e. the future elderly) will experience old age in much more varied ways than previous generations (OECD, 2017[5]). They are expected to live longer, but have been experiencing more unstable labour market conditions and widening inequalities in the distribution of earnings and household income. These growing disparities in labour market conditions could result in higher pensioner poverty in the future but also jeopardise longer and productive working lives.

The group of youth most at risk of failing to gain a solid foothold in the labour market or condemned to working in poor quality jobs are those who are Not in Employment or in Education and Training (the so-called NEET). Over the past decade, the share of NEET in the majority of OECD economies has remained stable. It fell sharply in Israel and Turkey but increased in Spain and Italy reflecting the severity of the recession in the latter two countries (Figure 5.4).

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Figure 5.4. Many young people are out of work and out of school
Share of young people (aged 15-24) who are not in employment or in education and training (NEET)
Figure 5.4. Many young people are out of work and out of school

Note: Data for 2014 refer to 2010 for China and for 2017 to 2015 for Brazil.

Source: OECD Transition from school to work dataset, and national labour force surveys for Argentina, India, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia and census data for China.


In 2015, G20 Labour and Employment Ministers and Leaders pledged to reduce the share of young people who are at risk of being left permanent behind in the labour market by 15% by 2025, and agreed on a set of key policy principles (see below) to both increase skills of young people and provide them with better access to quality jobs (OECD/ILO, 2015[6]).

Improving the skills of youth

  1. 1. Ensuring basic skills for all

  2. 2. Ensuring school completion

  3. 3. Providing greater choice in educational pathway

  4. 4. Promoting access to higher education

  5. 5. Bringing closer together the worlds of education and work

Improving youth employment

  1. 6. Strengthening job opportunity

  2. 7. Tackling unemployment

  3. 8. Avoiding prolonged periods out of wok

  4. 9. Improving job quality

copy the linklink copied!Improving job quality at both younger and older ages is a challenge for all OECD countries

There is now abundant evidence that poor or ill-adapted working environments can have a profound impact on workers’ physical and mental health (OECD, 2014[7]). Work-related health problems can lead to prolonged periods of not working and, particularly among older workers, result in early and permanent withdrawal from the labour market. A good quality work environment is not only key for preventing work-related health problems with long-term consequences for workers’ careers, but also for allowing people with health problems to return to work more quickly after illness and to remain economically active for longer (Arends, Prinz and Abma, 2017[8]). Therefore, the quality of the work environment is crucial for sustaining an effective labour supply over the life course.

According to the OECD Job Quality Framework, the quality of working conditions is higher for older workers than for younger workers. Nevertheless, more than one in four older workers experience job strain, i.e. high job demands relative to job resources. Working conditions are often ill-suited to the needs and capacities of older workers. Across the 28 EU countries, in 2015, 38% of older workers were exposed to physically unpleasant working conditions at least half of the time, somewhat less than in 2005 (43%) (Eurofound, 2015[9]).

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Figure 5.5. Many older workers face high job strain
Job strain (high job demands relative to job resources) in OECD countries, 2015
Figure 5.5. Many older workers face high job strain

Source: OECD Job Quality Database,


Data on working conditions for older workers is scarce in emerging economies but specific aspects of the working environment, as put forward in the OECD job quality framework, are generally of lower quality in emerging economies than in the OECD area. In particular, the incidence of very long working hours is frequently much higher. Likewise, the share of jobs with considerable job strain is much higher than the OECD average in Mexico, South Africa, Turkey and in the Russian Federation (OECD, 2014[10]). This may be deterring some older people from working longer and preventing some women, especially mothers, from entering employment at younger ages and pursuing longer work careers.

Strengthening workplace safety is especially important for workers with low socio-economic backgrounds as they are more like to be exposed to workplaces with poor working conditions. Health deteriorates as people age and workers with low socio-economic backgrounds have a higher chance of being in poor health, which can push them into retirement, resulting in both lower well-being for the individuals concerned and a loss of human capital for society. Early intervention is often the best way of preventing long-term dependence on benefits, particularly among older workers.

Toolkits and guidance material for companies with a focus on older workers provide a cost-effective way to help employees mitigate the effects of bad working conditions. The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) E-guide “Health and safety at work is everybody’s business” prepared by EU-OSHA Europe is a practical tool to help employers and workers manage OSH in the context of an ageing workforce. The E-guide offers simple explanations of the issues, along with practical examples of how to deal with risks relating to ageing and how to make sure that all workers stay safe and healthy in the long term, as well as links to further resources.

Countries have taken a range of measures to ensure a more joined-up approach to improving health at work through a range of preventative measures such as obligatory psychosocial risk assessment of working practices or the use of financial incentives to improve working conditions such as experience-rating of insurance premiums to cover their workers for work-related accidents and illness (Box 5.4).

At the same time, countries are increasingly shifting their focus towards improving working conditions and to facilitate career mobility so that people can move out of arduous occupations more easily. This includes offers of retraining and alternative job opportunities (e.g. in Belgium and France) to ensure that workers do not get sick or develop longer-term disabilities on the job. The Swedish government has given the Swedish Work Environment Authority a mandate to develop special measures to prevent forced early workforce exit due to heavy workload or inappropriate working postures in the health sector.

Incorporating healthy ageing policies into the formal and the informal sectors remains a challenge in many emerging economies. Policy makers should consider prioritising worker security and the quality of their working environment through promoting health and safety standards and well-enforced labour regulations, and through effective social protection systems (unemployment compensation and social assistance programmes, health-care benefits and pension coverage) (OECD, 2014[10]). Finally, given the strong association between informality and low job quality, policies that successfully reduce informality will raise overall job quality (OECD, 2006[11]).

A key aspect of job quality is ensuring that workers can find a good balance between work and family responsibilities. This not only affects the well-being of workers but also their decision to continue working or to take up work, especially for women. Flexible working time arrangements to combine work and care-giving are becoming more frequent. In Canada, under the Employment Relations (Flexible Working Arrangements) Amendment Act of 2007 all employees with caring responsibilities have the right to request flexible working arrangements. Since 2015 in England, the Care Act 2014 places new duties on local authorities to assess and support adult carers to maintain or re-enter employment and training, for example by helping to ensure that the person they care for is looked after while they are at work. These measures can help fight inequalities among older workers, in particular women, triggered by long-term care needs of family members and often resulting in employment, earnings and pension losses for the carers.

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Box 5.4. Prevention and early intervention strategies to improve health at work
  • In Japan, with the amendment of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 2014, a new “Stress Check System” was mandated in firms with more than 50 employees from December 2015. The purpose of the system is to: i) decrease the risk of mental health problems in workers through periodic surveys and feedback; ii) decrease work-related stressors by analysing stress survey results and improving the work environment; and iii) prevent mental health problems by screening for high-risk workers and providing them with opportunities for interviews with a physician.

  • In Denmark, the Working Environment Act includes 24 sector- and job-specific guidance tools that describe in concrete terms both the risks of stress and psycho-social health problems in the workplace and the instruments that companies can use to address them. Inspectors from the Working Environment Authority have been trained to support employers in their obligations. Preliminary results suggest that employers appreciate the guidance tools.

  • In the United Kingdom, the Department for Work and Pensions developed a specific initiative for providing small and medium-sized businesses with a greater capacity to deal effectively with health issues and sickness absence, e.g. through national occupational health advice services. These provide employers and employees in small and medium sized businesses with easy access to quality, professional, tailored advice on individual employee health issues, including mental health and well-being.

copy the linklink copied!Helping older jobseekers is becoming increasingly important

Effectively extending working lives requires improving help to older workers to move quickly between jobs, so that later retirement age does not mean longer unemployment spells for older people, especially the lower-skilled.

With older workers comprising an increasing share of total unemployment across OECD countries (Figure 5.6), active labour market policies (ALMPs) and activation strategies play a growing role in connecting older workers with the labour market and in maintaining or restoring their employability.

Recent evidence on the effectiveness of different types of active labour market programmes covering OECD and non-OECD countries highlights that specific types of ALMPs are more effective for some groups and in some contexts than in others, reinforcing the importance of tailoring the services offered to the circumstance of individual jobseekers, rather than to, say, different age groups. For instance, older displaced workers are confronted with specific barriers to re-employment such as obsolete skills and the absence of recent job-search experience. Alternatively, some older workers may be at a disadvantage due to increasing use of online platforms in recruitment and job application despite their history of stable employment and strong labour force attachment.

In recognition of the diverse circumstances of older jobseekers, some countries are making greater use of personalised action plans together with targeted group activities for older workers. For example, Germany emphasised intensive counselling for the older unemployed under its “Perspective 50 Plus” employment pacts for older workers in the regions, which ran from 2005 to 2015 (Box 5.5). In the Netherlands, counselling sessions targeted at older workers in self-help groups have been found useful in tackling social isolation and strengthening networking opportunities and job-search skills.

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Figure 5.6. Older workers represent a large share of the unemployed
Share of unemployed persons 55 and over in total unemployed, 2008 and 2018
Figure 5.6. Older workers represent a large share of the unemployed

Note: Data for 2008 refer to 2000 for China and 2007 for Argentina and Saudi Arabia. Data for 2018 refer to 2010 for China, 2011-12 for India, 2016 for Saudi Arabia and 2017 for Argentina and Indonesia. OECD is a weighted average.

Source: OECD Dataset on LFS by sex and age - indicators, OECD estimates based on microdata of the Encuesta Permanente de Hogares (EPH) for Argentina and Labour Force Survey results published by the General Authority for Statistics for Saudi Arabia.


Several countries have also announced reforms to further improve labour market integration of older workers. In Switzerland, as part of a pilot, older unemployed will be able to participate in education and employment measures even after they exhaust unemployment insurance. Moreover, access to measures will be expedited rather than being subject to a two-year waiting period as currently practiced. In Ireland, improving employment outcomes for older people will form an integral part of the new Pathways to Work, 2020-2024 strategy. The strategy, which is currently in the developmental stage, will prioritise cohorts who are distant from the labour market – including older workers – for employment programmes to ensure that all people share the benefits of an improved labour market context.

Redundancy may be particularly challenging for older people, whose skills may be obsolete and who may need intensive re-training and guidance to be able to find a new job. In Canada, the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers programme (TIOW) helped older job seekers to regain their place in the labour market and improve their employment prospects through a mix of group-based employment assistance services such as peer mentoring and counselling, skills upgrading and training, work placements, and self-employment assistance. In 2017, TIOW and other programmes were transferred to Canada’s provinces and territories under the creation of the Workforce Development Agreements to allow them to provide employment assistance and skills training with the flexibility to respond to the diverse needs of their respective clients.

In a situation of scarce resources, it is crucial that funds for ALMPs are allocated to the most effective interventions. Profiling of jobseekers can help to ensure more tailored and effective interventions are taken to help them find employment (OECD, 2018[12]).

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Box 5.5. Germany’s Perspektive 50 Plus programme (2005-15)

In 2005, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs launched and financed the Perspektive 50 Plus - Employment Pacts for Older Workers in the Regions. This programme ran from 2005 to 2015. It aimed to re-activate and integrate older workers (50+), predominantly those who are low- or semi-skilled and long-term unemployed, into employment. Furthermore, the programme worked to change the attitudes of employers as well as to identify and share best practices and innovative tools.

Local impact. About 77 regional employment pacts were set up with nearly all Jobcentres as partners as well as with a wide range of local stakeholders such as companies, chambers and various associations, trade unions, municipalities, training institutions, churches, and social service providers. Regional partners were able to adapt the programme to fit their regional and local needs, which is made possible through the rigorous simplification of administrative rules. The budget was free-to-use and Jobcentre counsellors had a great deal of discretion.

Services provided. Coaching, profiling, training in communication skills and job application training, job training, internships, and wage subsidies.

Evaluation. Evaluation of the first phase conducted in 2007 showed that the success of the programme rested on the combination of individualised counselling and coaching as well as on proactive outreach to employers. The most recent evaluation showed that placement results were better than in the case of more traditional approaches.

Limitations: i) the average age of the effectively activated and placed unemployed is relatively young (about 54 years with a peak at 51 years) and the share of people aged 60 and more represented only 3% of all participants placed in the regular labour market; and ii) the programme did not sufficiently raise awareness about more effectively coping with ageing. The new programmes launched in 2016 were targeted towards the (very) long-term unemployed, among whom many are older workers.

Source: OECD (2018[13]), Ageing and Employment Policies: United States 2018: Working Better with Age and Fighting Unequal Ageing,


[8] Arends, I., C. Prinz and F. Abma (2017), “Job quality, health and at-work productivity”, OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers, No. 195, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[3] Dauth, C. (2017), “Weiterbildung Geringqualifizierter und beschäftigter älterer Arbeitnehmer in Unternehmen (WeGebAU)”, in Möller, J. and U. Walwei (eds.), Arbeitsmarkt kompakt, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung der Bundesagentur für Arbeit (IAB)/ Bertelsmann Verlag , Nürnberg/ Bielefeld,

[9] Eurofound (2015), First findings : sixth European working conditions survey, Publications Office [of the European Union], (accessed on 9 August 2019).

[1] OECD (2019), OECD Employment Outlook 2019: The Future of Work, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[13] OECD (2018), Ageing and Employment Policies: United States 2018: Working Better with Age and Fighting Unequal Ageing, Ageing and Employment Policies, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[4] OECD (2018), Good Jobs for All in a Changing World of Work: The OECD Jobs Strategy, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[12] OECD (2018), Profiling tools for early identification of jobseekers who need extra support,

[2] OECD (2018), Working Better with Age: Korea, Ageing and Employment Policies, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[5] OECD (2017), Preventing Ageing Unequally, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[7] OECD (2014), “How good is your job? Measuring and assessing job quality”, in OECD Employment Outlook 2014, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[10] OECD (2014), OECD Employment Outlook 2014, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[11] OECD (2006), Live Longer, Work Longer, Ageing and Employment Policies, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[6] OECD/ILO (2015), Setting objectives for achieving better youth employment outcomes, (accessed on 14 February 2019).

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5. Promoting employability throughout working lives