Sustainable work
over the life course:
introduction / recap:
where are we now?
Greet Vermeylen
Foundation seminar series on sustainable work over the life course
2nd Session, Leuven, 6 November 2014
Do you think you will be able to do your
current job when you are 60 years old?
EU 27: 59%
NL: 75%
D = 72%
ES: 49%
FR: 46%
SI: 26%
(Eurofound, Fifth European Working Conditions Survey)
Sustainable work?
Factors which play a role (EWCS 2010)
•
Being willing and able to do the job until 60
Important determinants:
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autonomy plays its protective role, work intensity is a deterrent
 Karasek is important (job strain - / active jobs +)
work-life balance
 Incl. working time autonomy
cognitive dimensions of work
involvement in workplace organisation/innovation
social support from colleagues and managers
But also important: intrinsic rewards
violence and harassment, exposure to ergonomic risks, job insecurity
associated with lower levels of job sustainability
Eurofound’s project
Aim: to identify the main dimensions of sustainable work
throughout the life course and to develop a Eurofound concept
• A number of activities are being carried out:
 Literature
reviews, considering three strands of research:
- Impact of working conditions over the life course
- Sustainable work systems
- Life course perspective (incl. gender)
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Seminar with stakeholders in November 2013
Foundation seminar series (1st session May & 2nd session Nov)
Concept paper
National case studies
+ series of projects on specific issues
Advisory Committee for discussion in the October meeting. A final
paper will be sent for written evaluation
Sustainable work over the life course
•
Tackling demographic change: more people at work for longer?

Sustainable work over the life course refers to conditions that:
- attract more people into the labour market
- ensure that people work in such a way that they do not
compromise their future ability to work and live in a satisfactory
manner
 Requires
a dynamic and integrated approach to job quality
- impact of particular working conditions on the well-being and employability
of workers can significantly vary in short and long term
- through the work trajectory over the life course
 Depends
on other aspects of the workers´ lives, beyond work
itself, throughout the life course
 Is influenced by social policies external to the work sphere
Employment and social protection systems and social infrastructure.
•
Attract more people to the workforce: make it
possible for more people to work, (i.e. time, health &
skills)
•
Ensure that people can (and want to) stay longer
in the workforce, consider both quality of work and
the working environment
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Sustainable work: Eurofound concept
CURRENT
WORKFORCE
High paid
good jobs
longer
JOB QUALITY
Earnings
Prospects
Intrinsic job quality
Working time quality
Poorly balanced
jobs
characteristics
of the job
Well balanced
good jobs
Low quality
jobs
Policies, regulations,
practices and actions on
 Job quality in general
 Sub-dimensions like
occupational health
and safety (OSH),
working time, human
resources,
remuneration…
Sustainable work: Eurofound concept
CURRENT
WORKFORCE
Time availability/care obligations
Life events and life course policies / care infrastructure
Health / well being
Skills / employability
characteristics Unemployment/inactivity
of the worker
Motivation
Potential
workforce
LIFE COURSE ISSUES
Inclusion of people with reduced physical and
mental health capacity / health promotion
Lifelong learning policies / Learning organisations
Active labour market policies / life long guidance /
job matching
Meaningful work / the functions of work itself
Sustainable work: Eurofound concept
POLICIES, REGULATION, PRACTICES…
Public policies
CURRENT
WORKFORCE
LIFE
COURSE
LIFE
COURSE
ISSUES
Time availability/care obligations
potential
workforce
Companies

Job quality in general (job design, organisation, limit
exposure, deal with consequences)

Sub-dimensions of job quality:
 Remuneration
 Prospects (progression, security…)
 Intrinsic job quality : physical (health and safety)
and Social environment (support) , skills and
autonomy, work intensity,
 Working time
JOB QUALITY
characteristics
of the job
characteristics
of the worker
Social partners
Life events and lifecourse policies / care infrastructure
Health / well being
Inclusion policies: people with reduced physical and mental
health capacity / health promotion
Skills / employability
Lifelong learning, skills development
Unemployment / inactivity
Active labour market policies / lifelong guidance / job matching
Motivation
Meaningful work / the functions of work itself
Outlook
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Understanding working over the life course is complicated.
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Making working life longer implies rethinking of the place of
work in our societies.
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Different ways to achieve this objective can be identified.
Consequences of certain (combinations of) working conditions
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New career paths in a volatile environment
a cumulative effect of some working conditions (+ work intensification)
longer or shorter impact, permanent or temporary scar
impact needs to be assessed over the life course and considering the
work trajectory of the worker.
complemented with the impact of individual factors (related directly to the
worker and his or her private life) on the working capacity over the life
course.
Outlook ctd
•
A wide range of actors are involved at different levels
 Policies
aimed at directly or indirectly increasing working life
duration with particular focus on job quality, OSH, working time,
gender equality, welfare & employment systems, company
practices, collective agreements
 Unintended consequences of certain policies
 Policies can be addressed to all or some workers
 Combinations of policies and practices … sustainability proofing
 More research to understand interaction between different
aspects of work as well as between work and private life,
scarring and/or lasting effects of certain working conditions
•
Not a ‘one fits all’ solution

All countries have a mix of policies, systems and company practices
which are related to /might lead to sustainable work over the life course
for all.
Thank you
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Sustainable work over the life course: introduction