Training in information technology for older workers

Luxembourg, like most European countries, has taken measures to encourage older workers to stay longer in the workforce. Beyond the initiatives undertaken by the authorities, companies have been encouraged to provide training and development in certain fields where older workers could feel excluded. One of these areas includes access to and use of new information and communication technologies (ICT), which have developed at a rapid pace within companies in recent years. A survey carried out among companies in 2005 investigated company practices in relation to ICT training and examined the extent to which age was taken into account by the organisations that provided such training.

Prevalence of ICT in companies

In 2005, the Centre for Population, Poverty and Socioeconomic Policy Studies (Centre d’Études de Populations, de Pauvreté et de Politiques Socio-Économiques)/International Networks for Studies in Technology, Environment, Alternatives, Development (CEPS/Instead) conducted a survey on the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in companies in Luxembourg employing 10 workers or more. The study was carried out with the cooperation of the National Service for Statistics and Economic Studies in Luxembourg (Service central de la statistique et des études économiques, STATEC).

Some 97.7% of the companies surveyed stated that they used computers. Among those, 95.2% were connected to the internet, compared with 90.8% in 2001. A little more than one company in three (34.7%) indicated that all of their employees used a computer for work at least once a week, while almost one company in two (44.6%) reported that between 75% and 100% of staff did so.

Older workers and ICT

Perceptions of ICT vary from one person to another. While many may regard it as a factor enabling greater inclusion, others may feel excluded from this sphere. In Luxembourg, in 2003, 51% of company managers considered that their older staff adapted less well than the younger workers to the new technologies. Furthermore, 44% of the managers believed that workers aged 50 years or more had reduced learning capacities and learned at a slower pace than younger workers did.

ICT training in companies

In January 2005, the survey recorded that 17.9% of companies did not employ any workers aged over 50 years. According to the survey findings, less than one in five companies stated that their workforce comprised more than 20% of older employees, while 11.8% of companies had a workforce including less than 5% of older workers. With regard to ICT training, 37.5% of companies reported that their staff – without reference to age – had attended one or more training programmes on ICT use. A total of 90% of companies provided training on the use of software specifically developed for the company; for routine software, only 68% of companies provided training.

Among the companies employing older workers and providing ICT training, 76.2% indicated that they trained their older workers as much, if not more, than their other staff. Meanwhile, less than a quarter of the companies admitted either having trained these workers to a lesser extent than the others (4.3%) or not having trained them at all (19.5%). However, the data varied widely depending on the economic sector (see Table).

Companies offering ICT training, by sector (%)
Companies offering ICT training, by sector (%)
Sector Older workers trained more in ICT thanother staff Older workers trained as much in ICT as other staff Older workers trained less in ICT than other staff Older workers not trained in ICT
Financial services 3.5 86.7 3.7 6.1
Real estate and business services 0 85.8 1.7 12.5
Information technologies 0 69.4 18.4 12.2
Manufacturing 1.2 71.4 10.7 16.7
Transport and communication 0 79.9 3.4 16.7
Retail and wholesale 2.3 78.4 2.1 17.2
Hotels and restaurants 0 75 0 25
Construction 13.9 27.9 3.6 54.6

Source: CEPS/INSTEAD and STATEC, ‘ICT usage by companies 2005’; calculations by CEPS/INSTEAD

Reasons for not training older workers

Companies explain that the main reason for not providing ICT training for older workers is that it is unnecessary. At the same time – while less than 2% of older people had categorically refused such training – it appeared that this age group applied for it less (cited by 21% of companies) or were less interested in the subject (reported by 19.1% of companies) than the other members of staff.

Reference and further information

Leduc, K., Les travailleurs âgés face aux TIC (103Kb PDF) [Older workers dealing with ICT], CEPS, November 2006.

For more information at European level, see the EWCO topic report Information technology: Use and training in Europe (TN0412TR01).

Odette Wlodarski, Prevent

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