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The Ministry of Health, Equalities, Care and Ageing of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and the "Silver Economy Network of European Regions (SEN@ER)" (www.silvereconomy-europe.org) - would like to invite you to the "Skills development and life-long-learning for older people" workshop. The workshop aims at the development of innovative project ideas and proposals for submission to EU funding programmes. These can range from projects addressing quality criteria in the field of learning by and teaching of seniors (e.g. at universities of the third age), European guidelines for the development of modules for learning of seniors (content development for learning offers) but also projects on ways to teach youngsters through seniors (transfer of knowledge and experience of seniors) and the development of special learning programmes or the better coordination of existing learning offers in regions to be better focussed and targeted towards seniors.

The European Commission in their working document on the future "EU2010" strategy emphasised that skills are the key element for Europe's economic and productivity growth and for job creation. Lifelong learning is the key element to ensure good transition between jobs and occupations and in avoiding long-term unemployment leading to loss of human capital. It continues by saying that Europe has to ensure that European workers have the skills to contribute to the knowledge-based economy. Supply and demand need to be matched better. Labour mobility must be promoted to ensure that people can take up new opportunities by moving to where their skills are most needed.

The Commission strongly emphasis the need for high-quality education and skills development and is putting special emphasis on lifelong learning as a key issue for success. It is within this context that it needs to be ensured that older generations and seniors gain a maximum of skills and qualifications and through lifelong learning continuously update their knowledge and skills which allows them to remain in gainful employment as long as possible and also continue in gainful living as pensioners.

Finally, and in The European Digital Agenda adopted by the European Commission on 19 May 2010 the Commission will put strong emphasis on 'e-skills' and 'digital literacy' in the coming years. Part of the new strategy is the need for the implementation of a long-term e-skills and digital literacy policies to promote relevant incentives for different target groups whereby disadvantaged groups are explicitly mentioned.

Against the background of the upcoming European Year for Active Ageing & Intergenerational Solidarity 2012 the workshop objectives are to

  • Inform about the objectives of the European Year for Active Ageing & Intergenerational Solidarity 2012
  • develop a European exchange of information on activities and initiatives in different European regions,
  • identify areas for cooperation which may lead to the establishment of partner consortia and
  • develop and submit project proposals to European Commission funding programmes.

At the workshop we will also introduce you to relevant funding programmes of the European Commission. These offer opportunities to different types of institutions in the regions for obtaining funding for a variety of different activities in the topic areas 'Silver Economy', and 'Skills development and life-long-learning for older people' which they would like to carry out with partners from other European regions.

The invited participants are kindly asked to submit to the SEN@ER Secretariat their points for discussion, ideas and proposal outline papers and projects they plan to present at the workshop ideally already before the workshop which will allow us to speed up the discussion and the decision making processes at the workshop.