Most people are now aware that the world’s workforce is aging and that fewer young workers are entering the workforce.  As a result, what we can do to ensure that the workers we have remain healthy and able to work has become a key concern for business.  Interestingly, the ergonomics department at Chemnitz University of Technology is helping to provide solutions to this changing demography.

As part of their research, scientists there have developed age simulation computer programmes and even an age simulation suit dubbed “Max” to allow those involved in planning and optimizing the workplace to better appreciate the effects of aging.  Max simulates how an older worker might experience a job by doing things like slightly blurring vision, muffling hearing and reducing co-ordination.  The computer programme simulates a worker at different ages and allows the user to see what movements and jobs would be unhealthy or hard for an older worker.  You can watch an interesting short clip about the suit here.

The aim is to raise awareness of the problems faced by an aging society and the needs of elderly workers, with the overall goal of helping companies adapt for the aging workforce of the future.  The developers see a lot of potential for the development of better work places and, after wearing the suit, many also say that in the future they will have more patience with older workers because they now better understand what life is like for them. 

This research seems like a step in the right direction for promoting healthier, happier workplaces and creating roles that best utilise an aging workforce.  It also again highlights the real issues faced for business by the drop in fertility in recent years.

Shannon Roberts

Shannon Roberts is co-editor of MercatorNet's blog on population issues, Demography is Destiny. While she has a background as a barrister, writing has been a life-long passion and she has contributed...