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ASEP is an independent pool of experienced entrepreneurs, executives and experts who want to pass on their experience and know-how to the next generation. iGlobenews interviewed two ASEP experts, Dr. Helga Linhart and Mr. Michael Klemen, to discuss what ASEP does and how it can serve as a model for seniors in other professions and countries.

ASEP, the Austrian Seniors Experts Pool, is a group of experts who are also seniors striving to give back to society and remain active beyond retirement.

ASEP is an independent pool of experienced entrepreneurs, executives and experts who want to pass on their experience and know-how to the next generation. It was founded over 30 years ago and offers its members a large professional network, support and the opportunity to be active after retirement. Currently the retirement age in Austria is 65 for men and 60 years for women. ASEP offers its members a network of like-minded people who all want to continue working and being active after officially retiring. According to a 2013 study published in the Population and Development Review,older people in the future will have levels of many characteristics exhibited by younger people today”.

Age discrimination, obligatory retirement age and outdated stereotypes hinder many older people from remaining in or rejoining the workforce after retirement. Yet many studies have shown that older persons not only have invaluable knowledge and expertise which should not go to waste, but also contribute to economic growth and innovation.

There is a clear business rationale which supports older people remaining in the workforce. A recent study by the UK National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) has concluded that GDP would increase by 3,25% per year by 2033 if people were to work an extra three years beyond retirement. Working longer benefits senior citizens and society at large according to a recent report, “A New Vision for Older Workers: Retain, Retrain, Recruit”, prepared in 2015 for the British government.

iGlobenews interviewed two ASEP experts, Dr. Helga Linhart and Mr. Michael Klemen, to discuss what ASEP does and how it can serve as a model for seniors in other professions and countries. Dr. Linhart is a language and teaching expert who has worked for ASEP for a number of years and has used her knowledge in foreign language training in workshops she has given in Austria and abroad. Mr. Klemen, has a business background and focusses on offering his management and consulting experience to startups.

ASEP experts have many backgrounds, which have equipped them with unique skills and experience in their respective fields. The average (chronological) age of ASEP experts is c. 65-70. All ASEP experts have between 30 to 40 plus years of experience, which is what gives them an edge on conventional consulting companies. Compensation is not the main focus of ASEP activities. Organizations such as the Austrian Chamber of Commerce (Wirtschaftskammer – WKO) support ASEP. Many ASEP members offer pro-bono services especially to startups.

ASEP provides senior experts the opportunity to remain active.  Not only can the younger generation profit from the knowledge and experience of ASEP seniors, but also working together fosters greater understanding and appreciation between the generations.

ASEP is part of the pan-European CESEX (European Senior Experts Association), which has member organizations in 17 countries. All share the common goal to share experience with future generations.

Many seniors want to remain active – but how can this be incorporated into a workforce which already is struggling to offer younger people a job? ASEP experts are tackling these questions by participating in the cross-national ERASMUS+ project which focusses on issues surrounding the future of our working environment, demographic change, the retirement systems, loss of knowhow and knowledge transfer, health issues, appreciation of the elderly and the support of the young generation.  These issues affect all generations and all developed societies.

Although most projects are in or near Austria, there have been some interesting ASEP projects on other continents and in other countries, for instance the brewery project in Bhutan where ASEP experts helped plan and build a brewery, or a cross-border project between Austria and Germany involving a midwife software startup company.

ASEP experts including Mr. Kleman, are working with the startup group ‘build!’ at the Lakeside Science and Technology Park in Carinthia, Austria. Their work involves developing business plans, evaluating ideas and helping to turn the group’s ideas into a viable business.  As Dr. Linhart put it, ‘the young ones are faster, but the older ones know the shortcuts.’

ASEP always welcomes new members and can be a model for seniors in other professions and countries.  Its guiding principle remains: “it is not how old we are but how we are old” (Jules Renard).

Picture: Senior businessman sitting in chair with laptop in front of his team. © Freepik
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