Maintaining the Functional Capacity of the Workforce, AtWork, is a collaborative project to meet challenges in the society and business sector related to population aging. It is imperative to maintain the functional capacity of the workforce to preserve national productivity, and cognitive ability is a key element for extending work life and thus age at retirement but remains understudied. In this project, we will investigate the interplay between work and cognitive ability by examining how 1. Cognitive ability is associated with long-term employability, and the impact of structural intervention like pension reforms and financial crisis on the interplay between work and cognitive ability, and 2. Cognitive ability may affect the outcome of a new, metacognitive and work focus therapeutic approach and hence influences sustained return to part- or full-time work in adults on extended sick leave due to depression and anxiety. The project is a collaboration between the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO), The Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO), the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV), Center for senior politics, Vinderen outpatient psychiatric clinic (dps), Mental Health Carers of Norway (LPP), and Mental Health (MH)), and the academic institutions Frisch Center at University of Oslo, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), the Artic University of Norway, Tromsø (UiT)). The project is under scientific supervision by Professor Ursula Staudinger, Technical University of Dresden.
Demographic changes require the workforce to maintain its functional capacity into old age to preserve national productivity. Cognitive ability is a key element for extending work life and thus age at retirement but remains understudied. This is partly due to a paucity in large-scale studies of cognition in adults from the general population that can be linked to objective longitudinal information on work, sociodemographics and health at the individual level. This project will overcome these shortcomings by combining data from objective cognitive testing, sociodemographic ad health variables from several longitudinal Norwegian population-based studies with national registry datasets. We will study the interrelationship between cognition and work by investigating the effect of two types of interventions: 1. Structural changes at the societal level and the 2. Personal approach. Structural changes will be investigated by studying the effects of new legislation and changes in available work due to globalization and technological developments. Intervention at the personal level will be examined by studying the efficacy of a new, metacognitive therapy and work focus approach for sustained return to work. We will create adult life span work and cognitive trajectories and our main outcome variables are age at retirement and cognitive ability in middle and old age. The project will be carried out in collaboration with a reference group consisting of the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions, The Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise, NAV, Center for senior politics, Vinderen outpatient psychiatric clinic, Mental Health Carers of Norway and Mental Health. The academic team is highly interdisciplinary and will combine data and methodologies from their fields of expertise to generate new knowledge about the effects of different types of interventions on cognitive abilities and work force participation in collaboration with the reference group.