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Challenges of Active Ageing at CDPRP Oxford Brookes

by on June 9, 2014

I was delighted to attend the Challenges of Active Ageing for Equality Law and the Workplace Symposium last Friday.  This interdisciplinary event was organised by Prof Simonetta Manfredi and the Centre for Diversity Policy Research and Practice (CDPRP).

As well as a bringing together academics from a wide range of fields, participants and speakers came from across Europe while there was further involvement from local businesses, HR professionals and the TUC.  This provided a fantastic opportunity for debating notions of active ageing, both within the formal proceedings and informally over dinner and during coffee breaks.

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the first day which focused on the legal and policy around age discrimination and retirement across Europe.  On the second day we discussed issues of retirement and ageing from both an employers and an employees perspective.  Common themes emerged, across different national contexts, regarding the limitations of chronological age in aiding understandings of ageing and the variety of understandings of, and expectations for, retirement.  Prof Jurgen Deller reviewed a wide range of empirical evidence from his studies within Germany.  Interestingly he described retirement as ‘a career step’ and discussed that financial situation did not seem to be a major determinant of those wishing to work in later life. (Though in subsequent discussions the link from health to wealth to work was further unpacked.)  Using the term ‘Silver Work’ he discussed the need for more reserach to discover what sorts of work flexibility can be built into later career stages.  Prof Wendy Loretto took a UK perspective to also consider the need for employee choice asking ‘why is flexible work more topical than typical’.  Again Prof Loretto provided a great overview of the numbers, showing that while there has been a large percentage increase in working in later life the absolute numbers of those working past 65 within the UK remains really very small.  Wendy also introduced a gender dimension to discussion and highlighted that within her research women were less likely to describe various activities as ‘work’ seeing them more as ‘helping out’ (including key care responsibilities such as looking after the grandchildren).  Alysia Blackman then summarised her own doctoral research with a view to unpacking how different expert groups perceive the legal and policy framework should evolve to address the challenges of active ageing.  We all wish her well for her forthcoming Viva!

There then followed an extended panel discussion in which academic, legal, management (with representatives from BMW and Oxford Council),  HR and union perspectives being brought to bear on ‘Implications for the management of human resources and employers of extending working lives’.  This provided an opportunity to discuss practical initiatives being taken by employers alongside current and future challenges for research.

All in all a really stimulating day and our thanks to all at CDPRP for hosting this fantastic event!

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