SASSI: The Silver Age Silver Sage Initiative
The ageing of the European Union’s population and workforce represents a huge challenge to societies and economies, requiring relevant changes in labour markets, societal structures and social security systems.  

In Europe 2020: A Strategy for Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth, the importance of making full use of labour potential is strongly underlined. One of the headline targets for the coming years is the increase of the employment rate of the population aged 20-64 from the current 69% to at least 75%, including through the greater involvement of women, older workers and the better integration of migrants in the work force.

However, European Countries are still far from achieving this result.  In 2014, the EU-28 employment rate for persons aged 15 to 64, as measured by the EU’s labour force survey (EU LFS), stood at 64.9 %.

Lifelong learning and skills development are commonly acknowledged as key elements in response to demographic ageing and to the broader economic crisis throughout European Union. In fact, the EU Council has established a benchmark for adult participation in lifelong learning and adopted a resolution on a renewed agenda for adult learning. The benchmark objective is that, by 2020, 15 % of European adults (age 25-64) should be participating in lifelong learning activities.


The SASSI project focuses on empowering the ageing workforce by developing innovative training strategies that can be successfully applied both in continuous professional development (CPD) for 50+ employees and in VET programmes for active adult job seekers.

It seeks to develop age-sensitive approaches to learning and continuous professional development in order to actively engage older workers and job seekers and that eventually make a strong impact in:

  • Helping mature employees to be more involved in CPD courses in order to maintain their levels of productivity and maximize their chances of keeping their job
  • Empowering 50+ job seekers to promote their employability

An age-sensitive approach in this context means that a number of aspects related to planning, providing and implementing CPD opportunities to mature employees (50+) and vocational training for unemployed adults need to be dealt with by training providers as well as enterprises and organisations in a manner which reflects the specific needs of both target groups.

According to recent research on mature learners, there are certain differences in the way older people learn in comparison to younger learners – we need to consider these, as well as differences in the nature and aspirations of the older learners themselves.
We know there is greater variability in learning ability between older learners and that this suggests that individual characteristics play a greater role than they would among younger groups of learners.

Good training for older learners is essentially the same as good training for other groups – it focuses on the needs of the individual, does not make assumptions about the group, and is both flexible and responsive.

Specific learning will be taken into account:

  • Delivery and methodology of educational offers (learning styles of 50 + learners)
  • Training of trainers on age issues
  • Content of the CPD provisionContent of VET courses for unemployed adults
  • Content of VET courses for unemployed adultsMotivation of older employees to participate in CPD of educational provision
  • Motivation of older employees to participate in CPD of educational provision
  • Integration of age-responsive CPD in the HR policy of enterprises and organisationsMarketing of CPD by external VET providers
  • Marketing of CPD by external VET providers

The SASSI outcomes includes the development of guidance, training and coaching products which will enable trainers, CPD and VET providers to offer innovative tools and resources to organisations and older individuals. These tools will be made available through a multi-lingual e-platform – the SASSI Hub and Community website – where senior learners, VET and CPD providers and HR managers can also ‘meet’ and share experiences.

The SASSI Hub and Community will be available from this website.

As part of the project, the partners will also to establish a SASSI Award to recognise and celebrate the efforts made by employing organisations in empowering their 50+ employees by embedding the SASSI approach within their CPD approach.

Target groups

The primary target users for the SASSI Hub and Community and its associated resources are CPD and VET trainers, HR managers and line managers with people management responsibilities.

The resources and training materials will be designed to enhance not only the learning of these trainers, but also, through the development programmes delivered, age-sensitive approaches to the learning of older workers,  active seekers and/or those people looking to develop Third Age Careers.


The project will contribute to changing the mindset of European workers, giving people the opportunity to maintain a productive working life by focusing on updating and upskilling and by providing Trainers and Employers with the skills, tools and techniques needed to support older learners and workers effectively.