Employment and Volunteering

Being employed or involved in voluntary activities is a great way of maintaining health and avoiding social exclusion

Employment and other activities such as volunteering are associated with the maintenance of good health of older people. They help avoid alienation and social exclusion and increase levels of exercise, social interaction and connections with the community. Voluntary work needs to be promoted on its own merits, and not treated as a form of unpaid work.

One notable barrier that older people face is age discrimination. Older women, in particular, face particular barriers and discrimination in the workplace, often as a result of family-care responsibilities. Older people may need part-time work arrangements, and should be encouraged to take on new roles and learn new skills. Tackling age discrimination means affecting a major shift in attitudes on the part of employers and older employees.

Successfully increasing the older-worker employment rate may include incentives for employers to hire and retain older workers, with the understand that labour-market shortages are foreseen across Europe, and there are many jobs that only older people can fill without significant investments in retraining. Retaining older workers should seen as an opportunity for employers to transfer knowledge and experience from older to younger workers, and mentoring schemes could play a key role in bridging the intergenerational divide and share skills and knowledge.