Are you 50+ and have an inner entrepreneur burning to get out?
Author: Malene Vangdrup
Just because you have passed the age of 50 does automatically mean that all ideas and energy have left you. This was the starting point of a Nordic-Baltic collaboration project which ran from 2011-2013 with support from the Nordplus Adult programme. Inspired by a single man.
It was a day like any other for project manager Selma Björg Bjarnadottir, who works in the stock company JobInVest. The company is owned by 17 local trade union departments in Region of Southern Denmark and Central Denmark Region. The local trade union departments provide guidance to job seekers and assist in clarifying their competencies and in preparing job schedules. This particular day involved a consultation with Kristian, a 55 year old job seeker with plenty of professional experience on his résumé including the title as an independent trader. And the meeting with Kristian spawned an idea with Selma. ”Kristian possessed a unique bubbling energy, and he asked if he could meet with others with a similar experience to spar and discuss competencies. I immediately wanted to proceed with his proposal. There are many creative forces in this age group, and society needs entrepreneurs, so why not put together a program that trains and educates this group to be contractors and let them enjoy each other's skills and energy? ”, says Selma Björg Bjarnadottir.
Network with the Nordic-Baltic countries
In 2011 JobInVest initiated the project ‘Entrepreneurship 50+’ with Sweden, Iceland and Latvia as partners. ”The first meeting took place in Riga, and we soon discovered that our ambitions were bigger than what the budget allowed, but we had some very constructive network meetings with plenty of sparring, and it was clear that the issue was the same in all four countries: high unemployment rates, especially in the age group 50+”, says Selma. The four partners in the Nordic-Baltic network made the proposal for a training program divided in four modules aimed at different groups. And the target audience 50+ is anything but uniform, stresses Selma. ”We are working both with highly skilled and low-skilled workers, those with zero IT-experience, those with business ideas and those without. The program is carefully designed so that it takes into account the different audiences”.
The many good ideas brought up and discussed in the Nordic-Baltic partnership are now embodied in a large educational project called ‘Tower 50+’. “We have developed the training program in cooperation with vocational schools, educators and entrepreneurs in order to integrate it as a permanent educational opportunity in vocational schools and adult education institutions. The aim is to create new jobs through entrepreneurship and innovation – and, not least, to motivate people with long work experience to exploit their ideas and establish their own business”, says Selma. For Selma and the other participants, it has been encouraging to discover that the Group 50+ with the right support and teaching can turn budding ideas into vibrant entrepreneurship. And Kristian? Did he realize that his good proposals were to be turned into an ambitious project with funding from the Nordic Council of Ministers? ”Yes, because we hired him in JobInVest as a ‘door opener for businesses’ – so now we can take advantage of his experience and infectious energy”, Selma Björg Bjarnadottir concludes.factbox
• The project took place during the period August 2011 till May 2012 and has been given a grant of 29.500 euro from the Nordic Council of Ministers' education programme, Nordplus Adult.
• The aim was to exchange experience about guidance and information in the field of adult education. In addition, the project aimed at showing how to disseminate good experience and good practice examples in the Nordic and Baltic countries through international collaboration and ultimately to strengthen the bridge between education and job market.
• The partnership consists of Esbjerg Business Development Centre and JobInVest from Denmark, Campus Västervik from Sweden, Capacent from Iceland and Erofortis from Latvia.
• The project meetings were held in Riga, in Reykjavík and Copenhagen with a total participation of ten people.
• The project resulted in a larger-scale educational project called ‘Tower 50+’ aiming at creating new jobs through entrepreneurship and innovation.