Knowledge transfer, training and life-long learning

HR Manager

2: Healthy workplaces for all ages

Knowledge transfer, training and life-long learning

Life-long learning, training & skills development

Nowadays, organisations go through rapid changes in work processes and practices, and in order to keep ahead of these changes it is crucial that employers and workers commit to life-long training and make it part of everyday working practices.

Life-long learning is the provision or use of both formal and informal learning opportunities throughout people’s lives in order to foster the continuous development and improvement of the knowledge and skills needed for employment and personal fulfilment.

In the context of

Age management refers to the various dimensions by which human resources are managed within organisations with an explicit focus on ageing and, also, more generally, to the overall management of the workforce ageing via public policy or collective bargaining. (Source)

Essential principles of age management include:  

  • An emphasis on prevention rather than reactive problem solving;
  • A focus on the whole working life and all age groups, not just older workers; and
  • A holistic approach encompassing all dimensions that contributes to effective age management. 


, good practice in training policies means:
  • Analysing the skills needs of the organisation, matching these with the available skills and qualifications and using the results for planning;
  • Linking training to career development and professional development;
  • Ensuring that opportunities for learning and development are offered throughout working life to all age groups;
  • Removing age limits for in-house training opportunities;
  • Organising work so that it is conducive to learning and development;
  • Maintaining learning ability and positive attitudes towards learning by promoting professional development and offering training opportunities throughout working life; and
  • Adapting training methods and approaches to the specific learning characteristics and motivations of different age groups.

Older workers often have experiences, expertise, and skills that are difficult to obtain and that form an important element of the human resources of an organisation. However, despite this, older workers are often associated with skills deficits and obsolete skills. Older workers' qualifications are more likely to be out of date, as more time has passed since their formal education. Therefore, skills updating and development becomes more important to prevent their skills from becoming obsolete and to maintain their

Employability can be defined as ‘the quality of being employable’ or the ‘combination of factors permitting access to work, to maintain it and to progress in one’s career’.


Some tips to consider when organising training for older workers:

  • Identify gaps in skills and competencies of (older workers) and map the trainings needs for (customised) training, particularly in case of changes in the way of working and the introduction of new technologies.
  • Involve older workers in the organisation of their own training, to ensure it meets their needs and expectations and to increase the level of engagement. This will also ensure that the training builds on past knowledge and is linked to the job.
  • Offer options so that older workers can train during their own time, attend classes, or do it online from their office.  
  • Allow for self-paced learning and utilise various media.
  • Provide a learning environment that is adapted to the learning process of the audience. For older workers it can involve a disruption-free learning environment and an approach that reflects their real-life work. 
  • Ensure adequate lighting and good acoustics and a calm environment.

Knowledge transfer

Knowledge transfer between generations and methods for retaining and managing knowledge are becoming more and more important. Moreover, involving older workers in mentoring programmes during which they pass their knowledge and skills to a younger colleague, will give them the feeling that they are being valued and will contribute to increasing motivation at work.   

Examples of knowledge transfer programmes include:

  • Mentoring schemes: can be an effective way of promoting inter-generational knowledge transfer and enable older workers to support and develop trainees and new workers.
  • Transfer knowledge to new recruits: Hiring a new worker six months prior to the retirement of an older worker can provide the time to building skills and passing on valuable skills and knowledge. Retiring workers can act as supervisors and advisors to people taking up new positions.