Cross-border collaboration in the eRegions and Slovenian Third Age University
More than seventy participants were present at the meeting. Coming from different background they discussed silver economy, learning, contributory role of older people.
Silver economy requires a vision of old age on which strategies are based. It has to be defined and addressed holistically, attracting an array of stakeholders and not only older people. Silver economy will account for 5% of GDP by 2060 and there is every chance that silver market becomes one of the globally most important markets in the ageing society. Boosted by technological advances, silver economy will be meeting older people’s needs, reaching out to all sectors of production, distribution and consumption of commodities and services.
Older people represent an under used resource for society and silver economy. On condition they continue learning they can contribute to the learning of younger generations, they can learn from younger people, thus providing a cost-effective “virtuous circle”. They can also play a major role providing learning opportunities for other older people. Structures like third age universities already enable these activities. When not discouraged by culture, ageism or legislation, older people can perform paid and voluntary work. Structures for transferring knowledge and skills and structures for transferring craftmen’s knowledge and skills onto children and young people should be created and supported by existing organisations (companies, libraries, third age universities, associations etc. )To this purpose a network of real craftsmen and real workshops, real equipment is to be set up.
Silver economy is connected with active ageing and active ageing demands close co-operation of generations. Silver economy should take into account an array of older people’s needs, not only deficiency needs (loss of mobility, vision, hearing etc.) but also growth needs, higher psychosocial needs as well as their abilities. It focuses on normal and not only on pathological ageing. Technology on which silver economy is based can meet different needs. Older people will be consumers and producers of technology, commodities and services in silver economy. Being an innovative economy in sectors of accommodation, health, insurance, wellness, assistive technology, etc. silver economy will be based on innovations of innovators who in the ageing society should be of all ages. It will be further based on abilities and lifelong experience of older people in different social roles at work and elsewhere.
Silver economy requires equal access to technology, training and education, regardless of age. Learning of older people has a critical role to play in the achievement of a wide range of social and economic objectives, including extending and improving working life, reducing dependency costs and improving health and well being as well as participating in silver economy. Governments should therefore write into their policies a broader vision of lifelong learning, which is inclusive of people beyond working age and encourages flexible forms of non-formal learning offered by various providers. The national government and EU should support lifelong learning which is truly lifelong.
Silver economy will struggle against age discrimination that concerns both young people (who are overschoold and do not have enough experience) and older people who do have experience but are squeezed out of the labour market nevertheless. It requires urgently changes of legislation that is currently preventing older people from adopting flexible forms of work. Different bonuses (20% of the future pension paid out) exist for those who continue working till the age of 65, but not beyond. Those who remain in employment beyond the statutory retirement age should all have this possibility till they get retired.
All older people have the right to be consulted and engaged regarding their learning, work and other forms of participating in silver economy. Often they know best what they need or can contribute. If silver economy is to meet the needs of older people intermediary adult learning institutions, health and social care institutions, technological solutions, NGO’s , chambers of commerce and crafts, offering support to self organised activities, production and consumption in ageing society and silver economy are needed. Moreover, in silver economy, in an ageing and shrinking labour market, making better use of older workers is a matter of competitiveness, not charity and labour legislation is to be adapted to social and economic developments regulating flexible work, telework, part time work after retirement. Present legislation is putting too much pressure on the generations in the middle who are supposed to take care of the age dependent groups;
Non-constitutional inequality of retirees is to be abolished, especially that of craftsmen’s who loose 25 % of their pension if they continue working after retirement which is currently not the case of those who work on the basis of authorship contracts;
Unemployment of the 50+ mostly becomes permanent resulting in a loss of productivity and experience to the economy, a cost to the state and a risk to the mental health of individuals and their families;
Networking of all kinds, be physical or virtual, national or international networks of individuals, organisations, companies, municipalities and countries will be at the core of silver economy. The issue of ageing should be a part of the e-cooperation of municipalities without borders.
Done in Ljubljana, the 8th June 2016