Is enough being done to support an ageing Europe?Posted: October 1, 2012
Today we celebrate Older People’s Day across Europe, as it is also the European Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations (EY2012) it is the chance to raise awareness of the issues, challenges and barriers facing the older generation.
Picture of an ageing Europe
It has been well researched that the population of Europe is an ageing one, and people of 60, 70, 80 or above still make a valuable contribution to our local, regional and national communities. There are more people in the UK that are of a pensionable age than there are at school, across Europe life expectancy is rising while the number of people being born is decreasing. Initiatives such as the EY2012 and Older Peoples day are helping to raise awareness of our older generation and how the generations can work together for the benefit of all.
I can take, for example, my own parents who have both recently turned 60, both are still active and still in work but if they suddenly faced unemployment, how easy would it be for them to remain active citizens? Well, I know from the funding we provide as the National Agency that they could be involved as Senior Volunteers through Grundtvig funding. If they wanted to return to employment the default retirement age is being phased out in the UK so would mean that they could continue to work as long as they were fit and healthy, they would also be protected against age discrimination through the Equality Act.
A recent report suggests that middle age starts at 55: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-19622330 While not only being pleased that they were only middle aged my parents were also aware of the differences of them at 60 compared to their parents, suggesting that we are younger at heart compared to previous generations. However is this change in mind-set common across Europe and is it addressed fully enough through the initiatives mentioned previously?
Is awareness raising and the change in mind-set enough? Do the policy developments at a UK and European level go far enough in tackling the issue of an ageing population? The Lifelong Learning Programme plays its part in providing funding for people of any age, the proposed move for all education sectors to have the same focus for the next generation of funding is also a positive and welcome move forward as is the renewed European Agenda for Adult Learning. But could more be done to support people of any age?
We would be interested in knowing your thoughts on active ageing. What are you doing to support older learners? Do you think the UK and Europe could do more to support this demographic? We will then feed your comments into our Thematic Networking Group 4 who work with policy-makers and who focus on under-represented groups and how the Lifelong Learning Programme, and the future programme, can become, and remain, accessible to all.