Survey of professional profiles and distinctive competencies of senior workers covering key roles in companies

Dimensione: px
Iniziare la visualizzazioe della pagina:

Download "Survey of professional profiles and distinctive competencies of senior workers covering key roles in companies"


1 ACTING Project Active ageing for Competencies Transfer and training (Grant Agreement no. VS/2004/0372). Survey of professional profiles and distinctive competencies of senior workers covering key roles in companies Report December 2005 EUROPEAN UNION European Social Fund Article 6 Innovative measures

2 This Project is developed with the financial support from the European Commission, within the framework of the innovative measures financed under Article 6 of the European Social Fund Regulation, Grant Agreement no. VS/2004/0372. This publication reflects the view of the authors. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made thereof.

3 Index of contents Foreword The starting point Geographical environments, involved sectors, operational partners Objectives and activities The survey Guidelines Method and tools Sample used Results Appendix 1 Models of the questionnaires used for the survey Questionnaire to register process parameters Questionnaire for the description of professional profiles Appendix 2 Summary of performed activities Appendix A2.1 Summary of activities carried out on the professional profiles and distinctive skills of older workers in the fashion and clothing sector (Italy) Appendix A2.2 Summary of activities carried out on the professional profiles and distinctive skills of older workers in the plasturgy and cosntruction sectors (France) Appendix A2.3 Summary of activities carried out on the professional profiles and distinctive skills of older workers in the steel sector (Spain) Appendix A2.4 Summary of activities carried out on the professional profiles and distinctive skills of older workers in the food technology sector (Northern Ireland - UK) Appendix 3 Surveyed companies Appendix 4 Description of profiles (in national languages) A4.1 Italy A4.2 France A4.3 Spain A4.4 Northern Ireland UK...157

4 Foreword This document is one of the products of the project ACTING - Active ageing for Competencies Transfer and training, co-financed by the European Commission in the framework of the innovative measures of Article 6 of the European Social Fund regulation (grant agreement no. VS/2004/0372). Article 6 supports innovative measures aimed at promoting new approaches and identifying examples of good practice that can subsequently improve the implementation of the operation supported by the European Social Fund. For their strategic importance and prestige, innovative measures are managed and monitored directly by the DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of the European Commission. Under the overarching theme of innovative approaches to the management of change, for the programming period innovative measures focus also on the management of demographic change, with the goal of supporting initiatives to promote active ageing and to raise the employment rate of older workers. More in detail, ACTING aims at developing and piloting methodologies and practices at a transnational level for: - preserving, enhancing and transferring competencies heritage of older workers within enterprises; - promoting seniors adaptability and employability by re-qualification on new, innovative competencies; - raising the awareness of the potential of older workers and of active ageing policies by socio-economic actors, decision makers. Activities articulate in 6 phases as follows: 1) survey on professional profiles and distinctive competencies of senior workers mastering key processes within enterprises; 2) Development of a training catalogue on distinctive competencies and survey on methods for transferring them within enterprises to juniors. 3) Survey on seniors competencies gap with regards to new technologies, production, organisation methods. 4) Development of a training catalogue for the adaptation of seniors competencies, with the support of tailored training plans and methods. 5) Pilot training for re-qualification of senior workers, aimed at improving their occupability (for a sample of about 60 senior beneficiaries in teh countries involved). 6) Raising awareness of Italian institutional actors on active ageing, by comparing and transferring existing European (specifically in the UK) good practices, thematic workshops, study tours, etc. To implement these activities, ACTING uses a transnational, multi-stakeholder partnership compose of Institutions, company and worker associations and training agencies in Italy, France, Spain and Great Britain, with the involvement of workers and companies for the experimentation in the economic reference sectors. The presence of this wide variety of subjects operating at different levels in the training and worker 1

5 systems and the socio-economic fabric of the territories generally, guarantees a multilateral and synergic approach to the topic, offering increased impact for the planned actions. The following pages outline the reference framework, objectives, methods, tools and results of the analysis carried out to identify and describe the strategic profiles of senior workers holding positions with high added value in production sectors in the four involved European countries. The main document summarises the whole activity, while the appendixes contain the reports covering the specific sectors surveyed in the partner countries. 2

6 1. The starting point Our firm, like many others, has a workforce that is composed largely of older workers. What best practices could we apply to effectively manage these people as the clock ticks toward their retirement? How do we keep them motivated? Also, how do we select people from this group who can pass along institutional memory so we can groom (and retain) a new generation of employees? Any management secrets or guidance would be appreciated. A Premium on Experience, professional services, Raleigh, North Carolina The issues investigated by ACTING move from a starting point that considers and analyses two main areas: 1) the employment objectives identified by the European Councils of Lisbon, Stockholm and Barcelona; 2) the trends relative to the demographic and socio-economic context of the European Union, and more specifically the countries taking part in the project partnership. As far as the first point is concerned, we should underline the objectives of reaching 50% employment of the older population (55-64 years) by 2010 (ref. European Council, Stockholm, 2001), to postpone their exit from the world of work in order to make the welfare system more sustainable and the European economy more dynamic and competititve, increasing the average effective age for leaving the job market by 5 years at European level compared to the value of 59.9 years in 2001 (ref. European Council, Barcelona, 2002, Communication to the spring European Council Working together for growth and jobs - Integrated guidelines for growth and jobs 2005/08 ). The aforementioned objectives however appear ambitious when analysing the European demographic and socio-economic context, characterised by heterogeneous national situations and worrying trends: the average life expectancy of an EU citizen is increasing rapidly due to the increasingly lower birth rates; the employment rate of the elderly is still modest, representing a consistent burden for the welfare systems and active citizens of the member states. This framework is even more critical in the countries participating in the Partnership, as shown by some significant statistics for the period : in particular Italy has the most rapidly ageing population in the EU, while the activity and employment rate is 30.5% compared to an EU average of 41%; France shows figures that are only slightly higher, while Spain has one of the highest unemployment rates in the whole continent. Great Britain is an exception (although even here there are difficulties in some areas), where the employment and activity levels exceed 50% (ref. Employment in Europe 2005, European Commission Employment & social affairs, The working and retirement choices of the elderly in Italy, CeRP and CORIPE Piedmont and R&P scrl on behalf of the Ministry of Employment, 2002). In this context the subject of training, as also emerging from the indications provided by the national governments and EC attention (not only in the guidelines set by the Council of Lisbon), represents an obligatory step in effectively dealing with the problems outlined above. Some elements in fact demonstrate the importance of continuous training, and even more so the actions concerning LifeLong Learning, to improve the employability of the elderly and the consequent extension of their working life: 3

7 - There is a direct relationship between the opportunities for training and the level of skills and productivity: the rapid changes taking place in the job market require the adaptation of workers skills in order to assure an appropriate level of productivity. Particularly for the elderly, the lack of permanent learning opportunities significantly jeopardises employability. - There is a direct relationship between the level of qualifications and skills, the possibility to access training and the levels of employment and permanence in the market for elderly workers. - The introduction of IT and computer technology and new production methods strongly affects the employment and retirement plans of the elderly: the fewer opportunities to update skills and qualifications, the greater the possibilities for exclusion from the world of work and spontaneous early retirement. These considerations can be summarised as follows: - productivity in the elderly is not negatively affected by age but rather by skills obsolescence; - furthermore, their remaining in the job market also depends on the opportunities for training and the adaptation of skills to the new production contexts. Also in this field, the situation in the EU is highly diversified: while in Northern Europe the percentage of the elderly receiving training reaches peaks of 15%, in southern countries (France, Spain and Italy in the lead) this level is less than 2%. (ref. Employment in Europe Ref. Commission Report, Ref. Action Plan of the Commission for skills and mobility, ). The importance of training becomes even more decisive when accompanied by awareness raising activities (towards both the elderly and businesses) concerning the potential and the economic benefits senior workers can bring to the production system. Despite strong prejudice, which is only partly justified, in not considering an elderly worker as a still rich and active resource, it is without doubt that the greater professional experience brings higher productivity for the company. It is equally certain that senior workers represent a wealth of knowledge and professionalism that is important for companies above all in those economic sectors with high added values but that this is not always suitably understood and put to advantage. This initial situation leads to two improtant considerations: 1) updating skills and requalifying professional profiles contributes to increasing the possibilities for employability and adaptability in a rapidly evolving job market characterised by new technologies and production methods. 2) elderly workers possess an important wealth for their companies, and if this is not appropriately valorised above all in those production sectors with high added value (e.g. fashion and clothing), it may be lost, damaging the company productivity and know-how. Starting with these two conditions, ACTING intends to contribute to the subject of active ageing in an original and propositive manner, in particular: - Valorising the professionalism of senior workers, matured in formal context but above all in informal contexts such as the workplace itself, triggering two positive processes: strengthening self-awareness and understanding of the professional potential they possess, as a step towards adaptability and employment mobility; raising the awareness of the company of considering seniors as an active resource, 4

8 being custodians of a very important heritage for the company in terms of knowhow and, therefore, productivity. - Promoting the inheritability of professional resources through the transfer of distinctive skills from the seniors to the juniors to create a virtuous circle that can be of benefit to the company itself (preventing the dispersion of professional skills and knowledge matured in-house), the younger workers who are on the receiving end of the know-how transfer, as well as the seniors themselves, who strengthen their own awareness of being active individuals that are important within the company organisation. - Developing training programmes aimed at the requalification of the elderly, concentrating above all on new technologies and production methods, with a direct impact on their possibilities for adaptability and employability thorugh skills updating and reorientation within the new contexts and production trends marked by the rapid development of the information society and a constantly changing job market. 5

9 2. Geographical environments, involved sectors, operational partners The choice of economic sectors and geographical environments in which the activities were to be carried out was driven by the job market situation: referring to the issue in question Italy, France and Spain share a number of characteristics and problems, while Great Britain helps on one hand to experiment joint innovative actions, and on the other hand provides some interesting insight into examples of good practice existing in the country. Furthermore, in the four countries involved some sectors appeared to be particularly important for the subject in question. More in detail: Country Involved regions Production sectors Operating Partner Lombardia, Emilia- IFOA Istituto Formazione Italy Fashion and clothing Romagna, Toscana Operatori Aziendali France Rhône-Alpes Plastics, building Groupe ESCI de l Ain Spain Asturias Metalworks Great Britain Northern Ireland Food processing Cámara Oficial de Comercio, Industria y Navegación de Oviedo North West Institute of Further and Higher Education The fashion/clothing sector is one of the driving forces behind the Italian and European economy, and is characterised by the multitude of very diverse companies (from micro family-run businesses to large multinationals), interwoven and integrated in vertical supply chains and/or territorial areas. The products (garments, knitwear, leather goods, fabrics, footwear) are characterised by and acquire value through the combination of traditional processing and the use of new technologies / production methods: in the fashion professions there is a clear need to combine experience, tradition and artisanal skill with the demands of production and automation. In this sector the experience of the senior workers absolutely requires valorisation, as tradition and innovation are fundamental in rendering Italian and European products unique, and therefore able to compete with Asian goods, obtained with labour costs that are totally unsustainable even in the enlarged EU. The Department of Ain in France, in the Rhône-Alpes region, bears witness to an overwhelming importance of the plastics industry over other production sectors, with a market share of around 40% of the total industry. Much room for development can also be found in the building sector. In both sectors the problems of requalification and updating of worker skills and an ageing active population are already deep-rooted, together with the diminishing number of young workers willing to work in these market sectors. Spain does not show positive performance in terms of demographic policy. The metalworking industry has a significant impact in both economic and employment terms in the Asturias Region, with higher rates of elderly workers than other production sectors, and consequent severe problems of ageing within the staff and the transfer of 6

10 know-how to junior workers. The food-processing sector is one of the most important in Northern Ireland. The levels of qualifications and skills are relatively low, and the average age of the workers in the sector is on the increase. Two important factors have led to the choice in this field: the professional skills transfer activities to the young workers in this sector are still few and far between, and the retirement age in Great Britain is being raised to 70: it is therefore vital to implement upskilling and career path activities directed at older workers. 7

11 3. Objectives and activities "Skills/competency transfer is designated by crisis or immediate need with 'no key planning or policies'." Excerpt from the interview to a senior worker The ACTING project sets a series of objectives aimed at senior workers and companies. For senior workers we should remember, among other factors: - The valorisation of their professional skills thorugh the assessment of skills gained also in informal contexts; - The recognition of the strategic role they play in the company, also with a view to the capitalisation and diffusion of their distinctive skills; - The adaptation and maintenance of their skills through the use of ad-hoc training methods; - consequently, the improvement of their self-perception, self-esteem and motivation to stay in their jobs for longer; - the improvement of their employability in terms of skills that can also be spent outside of their own company. For the companies: - the access to concrete tools to identify, formalise, describe, translate in training contents, diffuse, maintain and capitalise the distinctive skills, which guarantee the specific quality features of the product. What particularly concerns senior workers is that often they oversee processes with a higher added value and/or enjoy experience that is hard to transfer through simple training interventions. - The possibility to create a climate of renewed collaboration and integration between senior and junior resources within the company, based on the understanding of the mutual importance as a qualified resource. The project activity flow for the part directly concerning the workers (leaving to one side therefore the awareness raising activities directed at institutional players) is described in the figure below. Analysis of the skills and needs of senior workers Development of tools and practices for the transfer of senior skills Development of tools and practices for the adaptation of the senior skills Training experimentation 8

12 The analysis was carried out with the following objectives: 1. The identification and description of the professional profiles covered by seniors that are strategic for the companies, as they cover processing with high added value in those sectors outlined in chapter 2, in the four European countries involved. 2. The identification of the distinctive skills of the seniors covering the roles relative to the profiles described in point 1 above, which make them important and difficult to replace, highlighting methods and time frames for the acquisition of these skills and the possible valorisation of the learning matured in the workplace (therefore also informal). 3. The identification of the skills needs within the senior workers (e.g. with a view to new organisational and production models and methods, the use of information technologies, the globalisation of the markets, etc.). 4. The recording of the opinions of the players involved in the issues in question. 5. The development of a concrete and reliable basis for the development of future activities: skills transfer methodologies, training experimentation, dissemination and mainstreaming. The following chapter describes in detail the methods, tools, activites and results relative to the analysis phase. 9

13 4. The survey "Our company had to use an old machine for a specialised product...we had to reemploy (on a temporary basis) a former employee who returned to operate the machine." excerpt from the interview to a senior worker Guidelines The survey carried out does not aim to provide an exhaustive picture or definitive conclusions on the issue of active ageing in the workplace: the limited sample of companies and people interviewed, the specific worker target, the economic sectors, nationalities, different company organisations, available budget and tight project timetable, the experimental nature of the project, and even the characteristics of the involved partners, do not justify nor allow for a generalisation of the results. However, right from the outset some guidelines were identified in order to guarantee the appropriate value of the actions carried out. These basically consist in: a. Placing the workers and their characteristics at the centre of our attention: the survey directly involved the senior workers in charge of key processes within the companies in the involved economic sectors. Generally speaking, these are the people who possess a large part of the wealth of the company in terms of know-how and human capital, which, without any preventive measures, will mostly be lost definitively at the moment these workers leave the job market. The elderly worker was therefore placed at the centre of the survey stage; not only as a passive beneficiary of the analyses of the needs for requalification and skills updating, but also as an active subject, the key to acquiring knowledge and professionalism, and the transmission of these skills to the company organisation as a whole. b. Placing the access on distinctive skills: the senior workers are those who have lived in the company the longest: it is therefore assumed that they possess a rich, precious wealth of knowledge, skills and behaviour, even if these are not necessarily explicit. Helping them to recognise and describe their skills was therefore considered a fundamental part of our work. c. Placing the accent more on the valorisation of the skills and potential of senior workers than on their skills gap: it is not enough to be aware of the need to conserve the wealth of senior skills, but we also need to motivate them to transfer these skills, placing an appropriate value on their knowledge, verifying their ability to transmit it and allaying their fears over becoming useless to the company once such transfer has taken place. The innovative character of ACTING lies precisely in its consideration of seniors not only for what is needed in professional and training terms, but also for the wealth of experience they carry and which can be transferred, primarily to the younger workers. In turn, the needs analysis has been designed with a two-way logic: the identification of the needs of the elderly workers to try and promote their adaptability and employability; but at the same time the identification of their strengths, the professionalism they have matured (in formal contexts, but above all in informal contexts such as the workplace itself) in order to raise the awareness of the system in which they act of their real potential and skills in supporting the productivity and competitivity of the company. 10

14 d. Using a systemic approach, recognising the senior worker as part of the company: intervening only with the seniors even using innovative methods and tools means considering only a part of the problem of active ageing. In order to promote the awareness and understanding of the value of the senior workers in the company, and to promote significant results in terms of impact and sustainability, the survey has implemented a mix of top-down and bottom-up interventions, with actions targeting not only the senior workers but also younger colleagues, management, and other players in the job market (business associations, trade unions, etc.). Through their interaction with the direct beneficiaries we have been able to create a virtuous circle which will benefit the system as a whole. From this, an approach aiming firstly to make the company understand how much it is still worthwhile considering the seniors as rich and active resources in terms of competitivity and productivity, and how important it is to ensure the facilitiation of the inheritability of their knowledge by younger workers. Without counting the positive knock-on effect of this approach in terms of self esteem of the seniors and their perception of their own strengths. e. Placing the accent on the transnational dimension of the activity: in order to have concrete elements to compare, to add strength to the actions that will follow on from the results of this survey, to guarantee better and more rapid transferability, methods, tools, activities and products have been designed, developed, created and used together by the partners from the 4 EU countries involved in the survey. f. Aiming at the achievement of concrete and directly applicable results: the objective of this survey is also to lay the foundations for the development of products and processess that can be concretely used by the players in the reference system, which are really new in the identified productive and national contexts which, as described above, face significant delays in the implementation of demographic change management policies. Method and tools The method As stated in the previous paragraph, the survey was implemented using direct interviews with the players involved in the company active ageing processes: senior workers, company management, junior workers, privileged observers (including the trade unions). A dual approach was used, considering the worker profiles to lie at the centre of the intervention, with the aim of describing their skills (see figure on the following page). Similar questions (which are the key profiles in your company? Which of these are covered by senior workers? Which skills best describe them? etc.) were asked to both the management of the companies involved, with a so-called top-down approach to the problem (from a managerial point of view) and to the workers, senior and otherwise, using a bottom-up approach (from the point of view of those materially carrying out the job or in any case collaborating daily with the senior workers who do). Furthermore, in the top-down phase aspects were considered including the distinctivve skills rescognised by the company as being possessed by the senior workers, skills needs, issues linked to problems of active ageing from the comapnuy point of view, the methods deemed to best be able to transfer and capitalise on the skills, etc. 11

15 In the bottom-up phase, this approach was mirrored: individual skills analyses were carried out, reconstructing the personal learning paths (including the path followed in a working / informal context), investigation of the needs and possible methods for satisfying them, and so on. Profile by profile, the results of the two phases were analysed, compared, correlated, made uniform and reprocessed in order to obtain a series of sheets that summarise the indications received from the various players involved, and describe the surveyed profiles for each sector in terms of skills. top-down phase Involving the management Survey of: - identification of key profiles; - description of the profiles in terms of allocated tasks and required skills; - usefulness of the seniors to the company; - risks linked to the loss of skills following the retirement of the seniors; - possible methods for skills transfer; - ideal training path for learning the job; - skills lacking in the seniors; - possible methods for developing them; - other useful information. P R O F I L E bottom-up phase Involving the workers Survey of: - identification of key profiles; - description of the profiles in terms of allocated tasks and required skills; - methods and time frame in which the skills were developed; - perception of the interest of the company in the importance of the possessed skills; - possible methods for skills transfer; - attitude towards skills transfer; - lacking skills; - usefulness; - possible methods for developing them; - time required to develop them; - other useful information. Matching The tools The partnership jointly developed two questionnaire models to carry out the activities, the first (see appendix 1.1) for recording process parameters, and the second (see appendix 1.2) for guiding the interviews for describing the professional profiles. Both documents included a section to be completed during the top-down phase (interviews with the company management) and one to be complete during the bottom-up phase (interviews with senior and junior workers). The questionnaires were drawn up in the four partner languages. In all the countries the same models were used to guarantee the comparability of the results and the transnational effect of the survey. 12

16 Sample used The following table describes the composition of the sample. IT FR ES UK TOTAL Companies involved of which small a medium large People interviewed The list of involved companies is given in Appendix 3. Results The considerations expressed in this chapter constitute a summary of the more general results that emerged from the surveys carried out by the various partners in their respective countries. For the details of each specific economic sector and the description of the profiles, please refer to appendixes 2 and 4, which contain the reports produced by each partner. The identified profiles A total of 54 professional profiles were identified and described in the four sectors examined. As previously mentioned, the profiles are described in the appendix. In fact interviews were held with a larger number of profiles (more than 60, as shown in the table in appendix 3). When processing the data, however, it was noted that in some cases different companies used different names for the same profile, and that some profiles (in particular in the fashion/clothing sector) were basically identical in terms of the required skills, and had different names only because of the different products they referred to (this is the case, for example, for pattern makers). In these cases, where possible, the profiles were combined. ITALY LOMBARDIA, EMILIA-ROMAGNA, TOSCANA Sector: fashion and clothing 1. Industrialisation expert 2. Time and motion expert 3. Department supervisor 4. Positioning manager 5. Patternmaker 6. Fashion coordinator 7. Accessory purchasing manager 8. Product technician 9. Prototype production supervisor 10. Department supervisor and external production quality control manager 11. Industrialisation manager 12. Knitwear production manager 13

17 13. Patternmaker for shuttle and jersey clothing 14. Finished product manager 15. Production and logistics manager 16. Technical manager FRANCE RHÔNE-ALPES Sector: plasturgy 1. Quality manager 2. Buyer 3. Foreman of painting workshop 4. Methods manager 5. Mechanical and machine assembly manager 6. Machine assembly and reassembly manager 7. CAD techician 8. Cutter Sector: construction 9. Site foreman 10. Electrical fitter SPAIN - ASTURIAS Sector: steel 1. Industrial Boilermaker 2. Heavy Structure Welder. 3. Intermediate Manager. 4. Foundry worker 5. Insulation Operator UNITED KINGDOM NORTHERN IRELAND Sector: food technology 1. Senior Property Manager 2. Trading Manager 3. Hatchery Manager 4. Agricultural Manager 5. Engineering Technical Manager 6. Primary Processing Manager 7. Production Manager 8. Human Resources (HR) Manager 9. Administrator 10. Charge hand 11. Allocations Supervisor 12. Cookhouse Supervisor 13. Assistant Hatchery Manager 14. Accounts Technician 15. Operations Service Controller 16. Telesales Supervisor 17. Purchasing Accounts Supervisor 18. Training Officer 19. Process Worker 14

18 20. Farm Administrator 21. Operator 22. Team Leader Assembler 23. Accounts Clerk General findings Active ageing and skills issues (valorisation, transfer, acquisition) are acknowledged by the companies and workers involved and considered very important: - The information and data gathered during the interviews were obtained thanks to a collaborative and open approach and dialogue with the employers and employees at all levels: top and middle managers, operators, etc, despite the heavy workload of the companies involved. - The people interviewed would like to be kept informed and updated as to the progress of the project and the use of data collected. - It is generally true that hard manual workers (e.g. steel sector in Asturias Spain) or people very close to retirement age are less interested in some kind of active ageing scheme or active retirement. Therefore many of them did not want to take part in the project. As already stated at the beginning of chapter 4, the project does not claim to provide a general and exhaustive overview or to draw conclusions on active ageing issues in the workplace. In fact: - Interviews were carried out with a limited number of people, mostly skilled or highly skilled workers covering key roles within their enterprises. - Outcomes depend very much on the country, economic sector, company mission and business culture, as well as the management and company organisation as a whole. Nevertheless, despite the different nationalities, economic sectors, roles and positions of the persons involved, some important common outcomes arose from the survey, which might be useful for inspiring, developing and piloting approaches, methods and tools concerning active ageing. The skills possessed The survey shows a fuzzy picture: on the one hand, in the companies there is the perception of the loss of crucial skills caused by the retirement of senior workers. On the other hand, however, seniors sometimes complain of the lack of recognition of their skill, and have the feeling that their work is not valued. In some cases they do not get along with managers or supervisors. Moreover: - The distinctive skills (and the hard skills ) seem to be acquired through years of experience in the workplace or through qualifications received prior to employment. - Most of the seniors interviewed do not perceive a lack of skills strictly related to the production processes: they are in fact the people in possession of the most innovative and up-to-date skills relating to their position. 15

19 - In general senior workers have an important heritage of expertise not only in terms of the mere technical skills they possess, but the knowledge of and the contribution to organisational issues, production processes, improvement of company performance, etc.. Skills needs Two main considerations emerge: a. The pre-eminence of soft /key skills (relative to the company situation and the production context): the first general conclusion on the needs of senior workers consists in the lack of soft, rather than hard, or technical, skills. In more detail, the main areas of possible improvement concern: - Information technology, in particular applied to production processes; - The development of a problem-solving oriented culture, to improve and facilitate the achievement of results; - Interpersonal communication skills, to prevent or minimise errors and conflicts and misunderstandings among colleagues; - Team building and networking skills, for sharing visions and objectives, to allow the company to work in a more collaborative manner, without obstacles and barriers between the different production units working with the same production process or task. b. Importance of re-qualification in production/organisation processes: - Senior workers not only have particular skills and valuable expertise, but also a clear understanding and a wide vision of the company processes, such as production and organisation. - Production planning and control to minimise problems caused by emergencies and heavy workloads. - Redesign of technical processes in order to reduce production steps and relieve human resources from useless and over-repetitive actions (more efficiency and effectiveness). - Redesign of strategic processes by considering innovative and flexible solutions and approaches. - Redesign of role and responsibility within production processes, by taking into consideration the expertise and experience of seniors. Competencies transfer The survey highlights a lack of tools/practices for skills transfer within companies. Basically, the transfer of skills from the older generation has largely been ignored within the companies. Whatever the size of the company, its sector or country, none had a specific skills transfer policy. Some companies do not even have formal job descriptions yet. Some others use the word tasks for their employee s role rather than the word competencies or skills. All companies have training policies in place, but many are generic unless specific basic skills are involved, and do not reveal any ad hoc 16

20 tools/practices aimed at those distinctive skills to be transferred from the older generations. Nevertheless, there is a high perception of the need for skills transfer policies. The skills transfer issue was generally welcomed primarily for company maintenance and/or improvement of performances, job improvement, promotion and/or self-improvement. A number of requirements and factors emerged as relevant to favouring transfer policies. Among them: - Investments in time, methodologies, will and strategy: the lack of time, formalised and usable methodologies and above all, a company will and strategy could prevent the adoption of a skills transfer policy (many individual attempts have failed for these reasons). - The personality of the individual is a crucial factor: sometimes seniors are reticent, sceptical (toward the management that underestimates their value; toward the interest and commitment of juniors), unwilling or simply unable to pass on their skills. - Formalised models/tools which have to be: - jointly developed (managers, employees, external facilitators/experts); - simple and easy to use but effective; - measurable; - tested in the field by the direct involvement of seniors. The skills transfer issue needs to be addressed as an on-going, systemic strategy, therefore before (or even better, long before) senior workers retire. About that, companies, local government and community organisations are generally aware of the trends of Active Ageing, but practically speaking there are no policies in place for ageing: all companies and organisations interviewed, although acknowledging the ageing trend, do little or nothing to realise the role, responsibility, ethical considerations or implications of neither the ageing sector, nor its consequences for future generations. Protecting the ageing population both in the workplace and in society should be a priority for all groups, including companies. Mechanisms are required which will ensure that those skills at risk of being lost can be preserved as people leave the industry due to retirement etc.. Last but not least, the best processes and methods for promoting skills transfer have to consider the matching of less experienced workers with more experienced colleagues, on a one to one basis, or in small groups: tutoring/mentoring, coaching, demonstration, shadowing. Other possible transfer methods identified are: focus groups, counselling, interviews, residential, on site courses/training, intranet/on-line training, off site courses/training. In managing the transfer process, the issue of relationship among seniors and juniors should carefully be taken into account: - Some seniors think that junior workers are less dedicated to the workplace and have low positive work values, and less care to the product or to learn the job. - Juniors are aware of their lack of professional experience and are ready to benefit from seniors skills transfer. - Both seniors and juniors underline the problem of identifying what are the skills to be transferred and which are the means to do so. 17