Cedefop, the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training, is organising a two-day international workshop on guidance and counselling for ageing workers in Thessaloniki on 30 September and 1 October 2010.


The aim of the workshop is to bring together an international forum of researchers and experts in order to gather the latest insights on guidance and counselling for ageing workers and to learn from best practices. Cedefop intends to publish the best contributions in a conference reader.



Europe is ageing rapidly. Many Member States are extending retirement age in order to make sure that their pension systems can last.  Indeed, popular discussions about demographic changes tend to focus on such financial repercussions from an ageing population. But academic research is also exploring how ageing affects the ability to find work and learn on the job.

The key issue is how to make sure that longer working lives can be successful. This has sparked a debate on how to provide ageing workers with enough possibilities to update and renew their skills throughout their working lives. Ageing workers are vulnerable to different types of skills obsolescence. Technical obsolescence (people losing skills because of wear and tear or not using them), economic obsolescence (skills losing value on the labour market), and even perspectivistic obsolescence (outdated views and beliefs about work and the labour market in general) all pose a real threat.

Research on ageing workers has grown significantly since the early 1990s, with much attention directed at ageing workers’ learning and working patterns.  In 2008, Cedefop held an international workshop on learning and ageing.  Researchers from all over the world presented and discussed their latest findings on the needs of ageing workers and on factors that promote or inhibit longer working lives.

The two main conclusions from this workshop were that successful active ageing requires commitment and involvement from ageing workers and employers - the working environment of ageing workers should support learning and recognise their needs; and older workers cannot successfully keep working if the labour market does not acquire a sound understanding of how the processes of ageing, working and learning relate to each other (Cedefop (2010). Working and ageing: Emerging theories and empirical perspectives. Forthcoming).

EU Member States have started providing guidance services that address the particular counselling and learning needs of groups such as the long-term unemployed, workers over 45,  and workers in industries or companies undergoing restructuring. But we need more research on the impact and role of guidance and counselling for older workers across and beyond Europe. To design appropriate guidance and counselling services that fully cater for the needs of ageing workers, we need better theoretical and conceptual foundations and empirical evidence.  

Cedefop therefore invites theoretical and empirical contributions that address guidance and counselling from an educational, occupational, psychological, sociological, human-resources or socio-economic research perspective. These contributions should aim to develop better theoretical frameworks (or extend existing ones) that take the specific needs and circumstances of ageing workers into account, or reveal more about which approaches to guidance and counselling for ageing workers are more effective, using sound empirical (quantitative or qualitative) analysis.


How to contribute?

We invite contributors to e-mail a 1-2 page abstract to the workshop organisers by 1 August 2010. Abstracts should contain a clear and concise description of a problem statement and/or research questions, research method and research findings. We particularly welcome pan-European or cross-national evidence on ageing and work.

Contributors will receive a review of their abstract by 9 August 2010. The deadline for sending full papers is 23 September 2010. Cedefop will reimburse the travel and accommodation costs of participants who present a full paper at the workshop, according to its rules. A few places are available for participants who do not present papers.


Workshop organisers

Mr Jasper van Loo jasper.van-loo [at] cedefop.europa.eu

Project manager (ageing workers)  


Mr Mika Launikari mika.launikari [at] cedefop.europa.eu

Project manager (lifelong guidance)