MOZART Models for the Future Labour Market 45+

Bern University of Applied Sciences is working in close collaboration with business, government agencies and research institutions to develop and evaluate models and interventions for the future 45+ labour market.


  • Lead school(s) School of Social Work
  • Institute Institute on Ageing
    Institute for Social Security and Social Policy
  • Duration (planned) 01.01.2017 - 31.03.2021
  • Project management Jonathan Bennett
  • Head of project Peter Neuenschwander
  • Project staff Debra Hevenstone
    Diana Romano
    Cécile Neuenschwander
    Michaela Maurer
    Michael Meier
    Leonie Salm
  • Keywords Labour market, Older workers, Trial model, Intervention


Demographic change means that the proportion of older workers is constantly increasing. In Switzerland, almost a fifth of the labour force is aged 55 and older. If workers in this age bracket are made redundant, it is difficult for them to find their way back to the labour market and, as a result, the incidence of long-term unemployment is above average among the older population. This, in turn, is putting a strain on the social security system. Furthermore, businesses rely on the tremendous expertise of older, long-serving employees. It is therefore vital to establish more precise information on the motivation, behaviour and experience of people aged 45+ in the labour process and to develop working models that match the future needs of the individual, business and society.


The MOZART project is evaluating and refining pilot schemes and interventions that will play a role in helping older workers to remain in the labour process until retirement age. It is looking for answers to a range of different questions:

  • How can we promote and maintain the skills and motivation of older workers?
  • How should we ensure that the interaction between these workers and their employers creates added value for both parties?
  • What role do HR development and staff recruitment play in retaining these individuals in the workforce?
  • What personal motives lead to early retirement?
  • What factors play a role in helping unemployed people over the age of 50 to find a job in the primary labour market?


With the support of a think tank consisting of representatives of major corporations, SMEs and government agencies, BFH and the University of Bern implemented and evaluated pilot schemes and used the know-how that these generated to develop different programmes for older workers.

Various methodologies were used:

  • Systematic literature analysis
  • Qualitative interviews and focus groups with experts, executives, HR managers, older employees and stakeholders
  • Future workshop
  • Online Delphi survey
  • Quasi-experimental analysis of administrative data

Labour Market 45+ Charter

Demographic change and the associated skills shortage are among the biggest challenges facing the Swiss labour market. A think tank made up of HR managers from major Swiss corporations, CEOs and HR managers from SMEs, experts from government agencies and researchers from Bern University of Applied Sciences therefore devised the Labour Market 45+ Charter.

The Charter outlines five key factors that will optimise the labour market for those aged 45+ and calls on employers, employees, political decision-makers and social partners to ensure that these are implemented.

  • Flexible retirement age
  • Diversity-centred business and management culture
  • Flexible working
  • Health promotion
  • Continuing professional development

The organisations and individuals who have signed the Charter support a strengthening of the labour market for those aged 45+ and are committed to ensuring that employees want and are able to remain in the labour market for as long as possible.


Pioneer projects by SBB and the City of Bern

Together with its social partners, SBB founded Switzerland’s first digitalisation fund, one purpose of which is to retain as many employees as possible in the labour process in the context of digital transformation. On the one hand, ‘best practices’ and ‘lessons learned’ are being applied in order to derive important findings regarding the dialogue with social partners in past and ongoing SBB projects. On the other hand, studies are being carried out to anticipate the impact of digitalisation on different key areas. The results are being used to draw up development programmes for existing and future professional groups. The BFH study on the subject of social security and employability identified different factors affecting success in tackling the digital transition. These include, for example, promoting interdisciplinary skills and agile forms of working, strengthening technological self-efficacy and ensuring a secure, intergenerational transfer of knowledge.

By providing a career guidance service for employees aged 45+, the city of Bern’s Department for Education, Social Affairs and Sport (BSS) specifically supports its experienced and older employees in their professional orientation and development. The BFH evaluation shows that those who use the service do so for three main reasons: they are interested in changing career, they need information or a skills assessment, or they are looking for guidance in relation to an unsatisfactory work situation. Thanks to the interviews carried out, a range of suggestions and ideas for improvement were collated and areas such as reduced-load working, partial retirement/working after retirement age and job rotation were examined.

Professional reintegration

On an individual level, when someone over the age of 50 loses their job, four factors play a key role when it comes to professional reintegration:

  • Motivation
  • Positive self-image
  • Flexibility
  • Lifelong learning

Specific government measures are needed to strengthen these factors. Job coaching by specialised counsellors and regionally based networks that link authorities, businesses and society have proven particularly promising.

Contrary to the widespread assumption, age-dependent pension contributions do not appear to have any effect on the professional reintegration of older individuals. This was shown by an analysis of the 2005 pension reforms, when women’s contribution rates were adjusted. The adjustment negatively impacted young female workers in terms of the length of time they remained unemployed, the probability they would be offered a new post and their expected income.