Working in partnership to support Mid-life Skills

McVities bakery
McVities bakery © Jess Hurd

The University of Exeter’s Marchmont Observatory recently helped Unionlearn deliver an international conference seeking to build support across Europe for the concept of a Mid-life Skills Review entitlement for every worker at the age of 50.

The event formed part of the Erasmus+ Mid-life Skills Review project that has been delivered in partnership with expert organisations across the European Union including The University of Milan Bicocca, the Workers Education Association in Finland, Prospektiker in Spain, CEREQ in France and the Learning and Work Institute (UK).

The intention is that reflective activities of this kind 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. The Review can form part of a more extensive Mid-life MOT.

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 and was entitled: TACKLING EU DEMOGRAPHIC CHALLENGE: NEW SKILLS FOR OLDER WORKERS.

Changes in retirement age and legislation have meant that many people across Europe will be working longer whether that is through choice or necessity. The event was opened by Vice-Rector Professor Mario Mezzanzanica on behalf of the hosts at the University of Milan Bicocca

Speaker Cristina Mereuta from the European Training Foundation (ETF), spoke on the topic of SKILLS AND THE AGEING DEMOGRAPHIC CHALLENGES FOR EUROPE. She emphasised the difficult demographic context in Europe where an ageing workforce will be compounded by small numbers of young people in many countries.


Ian Borkett and Jane Warwick from the TUC then introduced and demonstrated the excellent new Value My Skills tool, paid for jointly by the TUC and the ERASMUS+ programme and available in a number of languages. The tool has already been extensively used across partner countries and a follow-on project is planned to create new associated training materials and signposting.

Silvia Dusi from Milan Bicocca spoke on the exciting potential of MAPPING TRANSFERABLE SKILLS TO LABOUR MARKET INFORMATION using the tool as the basis for skills identification and mapping the subsequent skills to the European Union’s ESCO classification.

The event included a series of workshops where attendees brainstormed

  • How the tool could be taken forward
  • How practically can we keep older workers in the labour market longer whilst guaranteeing their rights at work

The event closed with a Panel discussion where among other speakers Jane Watts, representing the Learning & Work Institute, highlighted the potential of Mid-life Skills Reviews and the work that has been done to understand the state of the art across Europe as part of the Mid-life Skills Review Project.

Ian Borkett closed the event thanking the speakers and attendees for their contributions and signalling the potential of taking the work forward through ERASMUS+ with a particular focus on those hardest to reach and migrant workers. He also announced that the TUC were actively now translating the tool in to a series of new languages – Polish, Romanian, Lithuanian and Latvian.

The event was a fantastic opportunity to showcase the work of the partners who have both researched the latest position across Europe for Mid-life Reviews and subsequently built and piloted a fantastic new tool that can be used for free across many countries and is already available in several EU languages with accompanying training materials.

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, videos, and quizzes.
Profile picture for user Dr Andrew Dean

Dr Andrew Dean

Dr Andrew Dean is a Senior Impact and Partnership Development Manager within the Innovation, Impact and Business Departments at the University of Exeter, and a specialist in the topics of employment, skills, labour market monitoring and impact.

He is part of the Marchmont Observatory, a research centre dedicated to supporting real-world interventions in local and regional labour markets.