The Ageing Well workshop takes place against a background of a number of issues and concerns around â€˜ageingâ€™. These include: increasing pressures on health and welfare budgets; the â€˜pensions crisisâ€™; labour market skills shortages and ways of engaging the skills of retired workers; the significant, and potentially untapped, consumer power of older people.
By 2050 the share of the above 60 age group will be around 37% in Europe. An increasingly older population, it is argued, creates considerable pressure on pensions and threatens their sustainability. Similar concerns are raised around pressures on health and welfare resources.
The potential for ICTs to help alleviate these pressures and reduce prevailing concerns has long been recognized. In response to these dynamics, and concerns, a range of important policy initiatives have evolved, focusing on things like employment, health and lifelong learning, and, more recently, on inclusion. These have included the eEurope 2002 Action Plan and its successors eEurope 2005; and i2010. In the framework of this new policy design, the EU has set itself two targets to be met by 2010: first to increase the employment rate of older workers to 50% and second, to delay by five years the age at which older workers stop working.
In tandem with measures aimed at supporting greater participation of older people in learning and in the workforce, a range of policy initiatives have been developed to address emerging issues associated with the health and social care needs of older people, and perceptions of the increasing strain likely to be placed on the welfare budgets of EU member states as a result of the increasing longevity of citizens.
Between now and 2013 the EU and the private sector will invest more than â‚¬1bn in research and innovation for older people. Some â‚¬600m is to be invested in the ambient assisted living programme, while a further â‚¬400m is included in the EU's latest research framework programme. In addition, about â‚¬30m in research funds has been made available this year under the European Union's ICT Policy Support Programme.
However, not everyone agrees with current policy agendas or with the role attributed to ICTs. EU policies, it is suggested, make older workers a special group for whom special solutions need to be proposed. This contributes to stigmatizing them and reinforces existing attitudes and negative perceptions towards older people.
As the e-inclusion@eu project recently concluded: â€œICTâ€™s are not currently seen as an important instrument for active ageing in work and employment. This points to a need to understand more about the positive contribution that ICT can make in this area. The ability to learn from existing positive examples and experience has so far been surprisingly slowâ€.
Against this background, the epractice workshop â€˜Ageing well in the Knowledge Societyâ€™ provides a timely opportunity to explore some of these issues. The workshop will cover three themes:
Theme 1: Independent Living.
This will review current state of the art in ambient assisted living, for example developments in â€˜smart homeâ€™ technologies and similar initiatives aimed at helping older people to live independently for longer and aimed at supporting a more active social life for older people. It will include examples of innovative research and technology development funded under recent EU â€˜Frameworkâ€™ programmes.
Theme 2: Jobs for the old boys.
This theme will explore the role ICTs are playing in supporting older people to learn new skills, to apply their existing skills to new employment challenges and to help older people play a more active economic role in the knowledge society, against the policy backdrop of the renewed â€˜Lisbon agendaâ€™.
Theme 3: The economics of ageing well.
This theme focuses on the economic aspects of ageing well. On the one hand, it will consider emerging new â€˜technological supply chainsâ€™ associated with new developments like independent living. On the other hand, it will explore broader issues associated with the changing economic position of older people within the knowledge economy, with particular reference to debates around whether policy on active ageing is too â€˜dependency focusedâ€™.
Key note address
"ICT for learning in Active Ageing: opportunities and challenges", by Marcelino Cabrera (Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, Seville, Spain). This presentation will integrate IPTS research results on the inter-related themes of Active Ageing, ICT and learning. It will focus on:the learning needs and barriers for ageing learners; the opportunities and challenges of ICT enabled learning for seniors; related R&D challenges and policy options
Attendance is free of charge. Seats are limited and will be filled in a first-come, first-served basis. If you are not yet an ePractice member, you need to sign-in before registering for this event.
The workshop is fully booked. Registration has been closed.