Why Sparkling Grey

The Rationale

Europe 2020 Strategy points out that an increased ageing and low employment, especially of older workers, are two of Europe’s main structural weaknesses. The EC proposed a target of 75% overall employment rate in 2020, which specifically needs greater involvement of older workers and for Member States (MS) to promote new forms of active ageing policies. This Strategy was strengthened by the Council Conclusions on Active Ageing where MS are called “to encourage companies to introduce age management strategies; to raise the employment rates of older workers by improving working conditions, investing in lifelong learning; to promote access of older persons to education and ICT; to develop common principles for active ageing.

Despite this effort, older workers still face challenges that hamper remaining employed longer or, conversely, stimulate early retirement, namely at:


System level

Eligible pension age; lack of access to active labour market services after retirement age; society’s prejudices towards older workers; lack of incentive for companies to deploy active age management policies, lack of guidance and lifelong learning opportunities.

Organisation level

Lack of age aware HR policies and guidance activities; working conditions and work structures which do not directly support further learning; changing and emerging career development models and flexibilization of the labour market; missing  opportunities to keep up to date with technological changes; lack of information and reduced social networks.



Individual level

Loss of self-esteem and unwillingness to learn or tiredness; outdated skills;missing ability to manage and cope with change in later life; lack of understanding of how the labour market operates.

The Sparkling Grey project is designed to support SME’s organisational policies and practices related to age management strategies that encourage lifelong learning and facilitate the access of older persons to Open Educational Resources aimed at prolonging working life and preparing retirement processes adjusted to companies´ and senior workers´ needs and interests. Creating a bridge between organisations and their senior workers, the project also uses the potential of the multi-generational workforce to promote age-friendly workplaces (as well as to ensure more equal opportunities between workers of different ages) and to boost knowledge transfer and intergenerational learning that benefits both, the companies and the (young and older) workers.

Furthermore, and recognising that systemic challenges also need to be addressed, the project aims at encouraging debate at a policy level to produce a sustainable framework that properly addresses the organisational and individual challenges related to an aged workforce.

In detail, Sparkling Grey aims to provide SMEs of textile and metal sectors with adjusted and innovative human resources management strategies that address age and multi-generational issues while supporting career management skills specifically targeted to senior workers.