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Article
Publication date: 27 September 2011

Alessandra Lazazzara and Maria Cristina Bombelli

The purpose of this paper is to explore ageing trends and age stereotypes about older workers, focusing primarily on the Italian employment context.

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore ageing trends and age stereotypes about older workers, focusing primarily on the Italian employment context.

Design/methodology/approach

Beginning from a review of the literature on ageing, the paper: outlines ageing trends and discriminatory behaviours against older workers in Italy; identifies patterns in the age discrimination phenomenon based on organisational characteristics; describes training‐based good practices for enhancing the employability of older workers, as implemented by an Italian energy company; presents a range of best practices for age management.

Findings

Despite trends towards an ageing general population and an ageing workforce, there is overwhelming evidence of age discrimination against older workers. This paper reports that the age at which workers may be considered “old” is not clearly defined in the literature and that age discrimination does not follow the same pattern across work contexts. In particular, both organisational characteristics and the particular position held by the employee influence discriminatory behaviour towards older workers on the part of employers. Furthermore, although older workers enjoy fewer training opportunities, training is the most widespread policy for dealing with age discrimination.

Practical implications

This paper points up important implications for human resource professionals and employers with regard to how to optimize an ageing workforce scenario.

Originality/value

The paper provides an in‐depth overview of ageing trends within Italian society and culture and outlines the possible implications for both older workers and organisations.

Details

Journal of European Industrial Training, vol. 35 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0590

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 20 April 2012

This paper aims to examine the reasons for low labour force participation rates among older workers in Italy and discuss how changing human resource management practices…

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2307

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine the reasons for low labour force participation rates among older workers in Italy and discuss how changing human resource management practices can improve the situation.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper analyzes Italian population trends and age‐specific workforce participation rates, considering variations by industry, gender and management level. It looks at common age stereotypes and the effects of implementing human resource management policies designed for a younger workforce. It outlines initiatives undertaken by leading companies such as ENI, IBM and BMW to manage an ageing workforce.

Findings

Since 1950, the proportion of the Italian population over retirement age has more than doubled. Birth rates are low and life expectancy is going up. Unless participation rates increase, Italy's labour force is likely to be 40 per cent smaller in 2050 than it was in 1995. With more people retiring and fewer potentially active workforce entrants, Italy can anticipate chronic labour shortages and a widening skills gap. How can the country increase the number of active workers available to support an older population? And how can new human resource management approaches help companies to better manage an ageing workforce?

Practical implications

The paper provides examples describing the human resource management approaches that can help to prevent skill shortages and loss of knowledge as older workers retire.

Social implications

The paper draws attention to social and cultural factors contributing to age discrimination and the effects of negative stereotypes on older workers' motivation and on their access to training and development opportunities.

Originality/value

This paper highlights the importance of training as a way to overcome negative age stereotypes, using older workers as a valuable resource able to pass on knowledge, skills and company history to those just starting out on their careers.

Details

Development and Learning in Organizations: An International Journal, vol. 26 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1477-7282

Keywords

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