Forum 50+ work marketplace for older workers, Sweden
This initiative to create a work marketplace for older workers aims to provide jobs for 50% of the programme’s participants within nine months, which means an employment period of at least six months’ duration. The initiative also aims to combat discrimination against older workers. An important element of the initiative is that the activities carried out must resemble real working life situations as much as possible. Professional educators are involved in the project and each participant is assigned an individual job coach.
Aims of the initiative
The project was set up as a result of the difficulties faced by persons over 50 years of age in getting a job and returning to working life.
The aim of the initiative is that 50% of the programme’s participants will have a job within nine months of participating in the project. To date, 48% of the 500 participants have been placed in a job.
The target groups for the project are mixed groups of unemployed people and people in receipt of sickness benefits. So far, it has proved difficult for the Social Insurance Office (Försäkringskassan) to encourage participants into the programme – only 100 of the 500 participants have come from this institution.
The initiative is primarily concerned with the delivery of services and with policy development, in particular changing the attitudes of policymakers towards the employment of older workers. It does not focus on organisational change.
The initiative begins with a four-week period of group activities under the guidance of professional educators. The participants take part on a full-time basis. The activities during this period focus on career guidance. The approach taken is to mimic work situations; in fact, all activities are carried out to resemble real working life situations as much as possible. Under the guidance of a job coach, the participants draft their curriculum vitae (CV) and personal letters, in addition to establishing contacts and a support network. For almost four weeks, participants take up a job placement, during which a private job coach is available for each individual.
During the remaining months, participants are on their own, supported by their job coach. On occasion, common meetings are organised. Work placements are the subject of considerable interest and are presented in a special way and shown on a notice board where all participants can follow their development. In effect, the initiative offers a meeting place for the participants.
The target group for the programme includes people over 50 years of age who are unemployed and/or in receipt of sickness benefits. No complementary activities or services are offered as part of the initiative.
The Ministry of Employment (Arbetsmarknadsdepartementet) is responsible for running the programme. The initiative caters for about 180 clients a year; over the past three years, 480 people have participated, among whom there has been an even balance between men and women. All participants are older than 50 years of age. No plans have been made in terms of the programme’s dissemination and it is expected that the project will come to a close at the end of 2007.
To date, the initiative has been positive in a number of ways:
- 48% of participants have gained employment;
- evaluation of the programme has been positive;
- the ministry has guaranteed the programme’s sustainability;
- the project management team now comprises a group of experienced and motivated staff;
- the Forum 50+ association was founded to run the project.
The innovative aspects of the programme include:
- focusing on an obvious but sometimes neglected target group;
- the combination of working with practical aims and changing attitudes;
- the running of the programme by an association and network of sponsoring companies;
- running the initiative to resemble real working life;
- the availability of job coaches.
The service is a generic one; in other words, it is a mainstreamed or integrated service with no disability-specific options but with reasonable accommodation, where appropriate, in relation to physical access or interpretation.
The initiative offers the following measures:
- provision of information and advice to jobseekers;
- individual career planning;
- assessment and exploration;
- case management and advocacy;
- job preparation;
- job matching and placement;
- post-placement support and job coaching;
- access to financial subsidies to support employment;
- advice on reasonable adaptations in terms of accessibility and workplace reorganisation;
- employment incentive schemes for jobseekers;
- advice and support in relation to assistive technology;
- guidance for employers.
Qualifications and standards
The staff of the counselling service hold basic professional qualifications in counselling people with disabilities.
The counselling service is not subject to national quality standards, nor does it operate according to an internally recognised quality management system.
The project applies three of the four principles of case management:
- active coordination of services;
- negotiation and mediation;
- evaluation of employment options.
Research and evaluation
The initiative has been the subject of published research. A scientific report and an evaluation over the entire three-year period of the programme are available. For more information, contact Kerstin Kärkkänen at the following email address: Kerstin.firstname.lastname@example.org