Erasmus and Mid-life

Unionlearn is campaigning for every worker at the age of 50 to have an entitlement to a Mid-life Career Review.


These reflective activities can help older workers develop new skills and improve job resilience so that they can continue to play an active role within the labour market. During November 2019 unionlearn delivered a national dissemination event as part of an Erasmus+ Mid-life Skills Review project.

The event explored why it’s so important for older workers to receive training and support they need to continue to play a productive and active role within the workplace. The working population of the UK is ageing. The estimated number of job vacancies will far exceed the number of school and college leavers. Changes in retirement age and legislation have meant that many of us will be working longer whether that is through choice or necessity. Opening the event Jane Watts, representing the Learning & Work Institute, highlighted the challenges of an aging population and aging UK labour market

In order to close this gap, the Erasmus+ Mid-life Skills Review Project developed an online tool to help people across 6 European countries explore their transferable skills and create a personalised action plan to help develop their skills. I provided a demonstration of the online Value My Skills tool and attendees explored how the tools could be useful in their organisations.

Ian Borkett emphasised how mid-life skills reviews can be introduced in the workplace as a positive intervention for workers as it helps them reflect on their situation and plan for the future. This was further illustrated by Michelle Whitely, Usdaw ULR, Sainsbury’s/Argos. Michelle outlined how mid-life skills reviews had made a positive impact for both employees and the business.

Facing redundancy can be extremely stressful at any time of your life but preparing for a period of change can alleviate some of the stress and help to review your options. Research shows that those people who have below level 2 qualifications find it more difficult to re-engage in the labour market and for those aged 55+ the challenge is intensified. People who have qualifications above level 2 are more likely to find further employment, so it makes economic sense to prepare for your future.

A panel discussion chaired by Jane Watts, L&WI took place to field questions from the audience and consider how older workers can be supported to meet the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution. The panellists, John Power, Legal & General; Gemma Rollo, Unite/Legal & General; Christopher Brooks, Age UK and Iain Murray, unionlearn also discussed the impact of artificial intelligence on the labour market.

I am delighted the event showcased the positive impact the Mid-life Skills Review Project has had. The discussions and activities were really lively and the initial feedback has been very positive. There have been lots of useful suggestions for expanding the Value My Skills tool activities. I am looking forward to rolling out the tool, more widely, next year.          

If you would like to find out more about the Erasmus+ Mid-life Skills Review Project or Supporting Mid-life Development, unionlearn have a wealth of information and resources to help and support you. These include:

  • Background and information about Erasmus+ Mid-life Skills Review Project including the national report and project aims.
  • The Value My Skills online tool helps users explore their transferable skills and produce a development plan.
  • Supporting Mid-life Development learning theme on the Climbing Frame website. This learning theme contains a wealth of information to help reps support older workers and deliver Mid-life Development Reviews
  • Supporting Mid-life Development eNote. This short online module contains a mixture of text, video’s, and quizzes.

Coming soon……

  • New for 2020 – Supporting Learners 50+: This guide explores the sources of support and advice available especially for older workers.
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Jane Warwick

Jane Warwick is a unionlearn Projects Officer. She's worked at the TUC since 1996 in a number roles within TUC Education, Learning Services and now unionlearn.

She is part of the Services Team with the remit of supporting learners and leads on Supporting Mid-life Development agenda.