The Rainbow Years Project

The Rainbow Years Project

Mid-Life Skills Review, Supporting Older Workers to Plan, Progress and Prosper in Later Life

Background

Europe is encountering a demographic crisis, with a shrinking workforce coupled with increased demands for social services. The labour force in Europe is projected to decrease by an average of two million every year between 2010 and 2030. This represents a loss of 1% of its current size per year for 20 years. Yet, in many countries, most workers still retire (relatively) early. They often do so not because they want to, but because they feel compelled to (or) that they do not have other options. Solutions need to be found to make work more sustainable, and to extend working lives to avoid old-age poverty.

©Jess Hurd

A substantial body of evidence exists that shows people over the age of 50 in Europe exiting the labour market find it more difficult to re-enter. The Rainbow Years Project aims to develop a digitally supported mid-life skills review that can help prepare workers to be more resistant to labour market challenges they face in the future.

The concept of the mid-life skills review (MLSR) is one which is gradually gaining favour in many countries and the role of social partners in both lobbying for and delivering elements of this is one that could be critical to its success (Eurofound 2017). A MLSR is a holistic approach designed to cover many topics such as retirement planning, finance, pensions and central to all models of a mid-life review - skills.

The Rainbow Years Project

Our project will develop a new good practice model for the delivery of a mid-life ‘skills’ review – with the emphasis on reviewing skills and competences and targeted at those members of the labour market with low levels of basic skills in literacy, numeracy and digital literacy. Our good practice model will contain new materials specifically designed for use by Europe’s social partners, but which could readily be transferred to other settings and user groups. These materials will include an interactive online skills assessment tool and new online learning modules for reviewers. A dedicated platform for these materials will be created and the materials themselves translated into partner languages. We will also explore with partners how these new resources can be combined with the kind of holistic offer needed for a full MLSR.

©Justin Sutcliffe

As well as a new suite of materials and in keeping with the European priority for prioritising the recognition of skills and qualifications we will accredit learning through a new online digital badge. Badging of this kind is increasingly valued and is an innovation which the project partners have existing expertise in using. Further, the reviewers across the partnership will be encouraged to become ‘mid-life skills champions’, with the support of online tools and a virtual e-network. This network will support its members and share ideas and experience.

We will gain further sustainable impacts by; delivering a series of events in each partner country to highlight the new materials and support available; by developing a series of employee case studies to highlight some of the positive outcomes from the mid-life skills reviews e.g. progression, promotion, career change etc; and we will carry out a longitudinal study of the impact of mid-life skills reviews which will focus on 3 key perspectives: workplaces/reviewers/employees.

The project aims to:

  • Design and launch website pages on the TUC website
  • Train a network of mid-life skills champions
  • Design and deliver an online training course for mid-life skills reviewers
  • Develop online modules and materials to support mid-life skills reviewer’s assessors
  • Produce digital badges for training recognition
  • Deliver national event to disseminate good practice
  • Deliver an international conference with the ILO to show the lessons learned from the projects work