Knowledge transfer and active ageing: social partners sign framework agreement

A framework agreement outlines measures to help workers stay healthy and active as they age and to make it easier to transfer knowledge and experience between generations at the workplace.

SW – 04/2017

Within the context of their fifth Work Programme 2015-2017, the European social partners have approved a framework agreement with measures to promote active ageing and an inter-generational approach to transferring knowledge and experience. 

The framework agreement was signed on 8 March 2017 during the Tripartite Social Summit: “The future of Europe: charting the course towards growth, employment and fairness”. The Tripartite Social Summit takes place twice a year, prior to the spring and autumn European Council meetings. The aim of the Summit is to have a constructive dialogue between the European social partners, the European Commission, the Heads of State or Government of the EU countries, and the Ministers for Labour and Social Affairs of the Member States currently holding the EU Presidency as well as the two following Presidencies.  

The signatories of the framework agreement (BusinessEurope, UEAPME, CEEP und ETUC-CES) want to draw the attention of the social partners and their representatives to the challenges and opportunities of demographic change. The agreement outlines practical tools and measures to promote active ageing and ensure a healthy, safe and productive working environment, so that workers can work until the legal retirement age. In addition, the agreement aims to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and experience between generations in the workplace.  

What’s in the framework agreement?

The framework agreement proposes strategic assessments of workforce demography. The aim is to provide employers, workers and their representatives with a basis for identifying opportunities and risks associated with demographic change, and to take appropriate action to adapt to these changes. However, many of the measures outlined in the agreement can be carried out without such an assessment.  

In order to promote active ageing, different measures should be put in place with regard to the ageing workforce and adjustments should be made to the working environment to ensure work is healthy and productive. Measures to foster health and safety in the workplace could include inter alia: adjusting work processes and workplaces; redistributing tasks; effective prevention strategies and OSH risk assessments; raising awareness of health promotion; providing training to management; as well as implementing and reviewing health and safety measures. 

Tools and measures to support competence and lifelong learning for workers include: training workers of all ages in order to maintain and expand their knowledge and understanding, particularly for digital technology; promoting career development and mobility; and taking into consideration the age perspective when planning training.  

The social partners want to create a working environment which encourages cooperation and solidarity between generations. Transferring knowledge and experience between generations in the workplace is a way of achieving this. Specific measures to support inter-generational exchange include amongst others: providing mentoring and coaching schemes for younger workers; implementing specific programmes for exchanging knowledge; and creating knowledge banks to capture know-how and experience in the company. The agreement also mentions working with education institutions to make it easier to enter the labour market or move within it.  

The framework agreement commits the members of the signatory parties to promote and implement its tools and measures within three years. If requested by one of the signatory parties, the agreement will be evaluated and reviewed any time after five years after signing.