LIFELONG LEARNING: UNCOVERING THE POTENTIALS TO RETAIN MATURE WORKERS

M. Kogovšek

University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Economics (SLOVENIA)
Knowledge based economy focuses on human capital as the key source of companies’ strongest competitive advantage. Therefore human resource managers have to find ways to maximize human capital since companies that view learning as a key priority will be successful in the future. We witness the shrinkage of jobs in the manufacture of material goods in comparison to professional and service occupations that involve working with knowledge or people. In new economies business success no longer relies on improving efficiency, but rather on human capabilities. However the workforce is aging in all developed countries and subsequent trend of workforce aging will continue for decades. In this context mature workers play dominant role in workforce because the supply of younger workers is becoming depleted. Companies that retain mature workers will achieve competitive advantages over those that will ignore demographic trends. In this context, continuous education and training of mature individuals is one of the most important agents of prolonging working life because up-to date knowledge and skills are, above adequate health status, factors of work ability which by appropriate work settings set basis of high performance.

According to human capital theory, lifelong learning increases human capital, therefore companies have to encourage all their workers to participate in training and development regardless of age because of rapid changing working environment. Human resource departments provide learning opportunities that help employees to be ready for competition within a global economy since employees who acquire a wider range of skills become the organizations’ valuable assets. Up-to-date knowledge and skills enable much quicker adaptation to internal and external business demands and at the same time productivity is preserved under any conditions.

The purpose of the paper is to provide a discussion of integrative approach toward lifelong learning strategies as the key building strategy to retain mature workers. When drawing up the most important human resource practices in pursuance of retaining mature workers, a workability model with the focus on lifelong learning is being proposed