EurWORK European Observatory of Working Life

Ship Design and Research Centre, Poland: Exit policy


Case study name: 
Ageing workforce
Organisation Size: 
Public sector
Target Groups: 
Initiative Types: 
Exit Policy


Organisational background


The Ship Design and Research Centre (Centrum Techniki Okretowej, CTO) in Gdansk, northern Poland, was established in 1971 as a state-owned company. In 2002, the company was attributed the status of a research and development unit by the State Committee of Scientific Research. In 2004, CTO was transformed into a joint-stock company owned by the Ministry of Treasure.

The primary mission of CTO is to develop and support the shipbuilding industry through research and development (R&D), design and information activities both in the ship design and shipbuilding processes. The intellectual, research and design resources of CTO are also employed for other branches of the economy, but in particular for shipping.

CTO’s research laboratories are also made available to students and research staff of technical universities, as part of CTO’s contribution to improving educational quality and developing scientific research. The company currently employs 210 people, 89 of whom work in R&D.

Good practice today

CTO conducts scientific research in the field of ship design and construction. In terms of management, it applies its expertise in the context of the changing global market of ship production. Changes in the shipbuilding industry cause strong variations in the field of research and design of ships. In order to adjust to these variations, CTO maintains regular contact with a significant number of its former, experienced constructors who have various specialisations, by commissioning them to work for the company on particular jobs.

The type of work concerned mainly involves: the design of ship propellers; optimisation of the hull shape; design works relating to anticorrosion protection; works involving the building and testing of ship models; and the application of advanced numerical tools. This type of work requires highly qualified and experienced staff with specialist competencies and knowledge. To help carry out such tasks, CTO employs an average of 10 retired employees every year.

Apart from design and construction works, these older retired employees support CTO in analysing the demand for different types of ships and preparing feasibility studies, as well as providing support for the entire process using their extensive expertise and knowledge. Support provided by EU-funded projects provides a good opportunity for employing these older people, who are regarded as in-house experts.

In 2005, some 15 projects were realised under the Fifth Framework Programme of the European Community for research, technological development and demonstration activities and seven projects were financed by the Sixth Framework Programme. These projects allow for the employment of experts on a commission-by-commission basis, both due to the rules of financing the research as well as the short timeframe (often several months) for the realisation of tasks.

The older employees who are commissioned to carry out work for CTO also act as mentors for younger engineers, constructors and scientists, supplementing their knowledge on particular disciplines of ship design and they receive additional payment for such tasks.

The selection procedure for the employment of older workers as in-house experts is mainly based on the special requirements and needs of the company and the appropriate competencies of the people listed on its database. Generally, the in-house experts are employed on a temporary contract where the tasks are specified on a per job basis. The contracts are largely task or goal-oriented, which allows for flexible working time.

Further information

Contact: Joanna Wierszylo, Research and Development Unit, email:



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