Hot on the heels of the Design for Wellbeing: Ageing and Mobility in the Built Environment call released a couple of months ago, the Medical Research Council (MRC) and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) have jointly released two major new calls for research on the theme of Extending Working Lives:
Extending Working Lives: Research Partnerships Awards
This calls for proposals which comprise “partnerships of academics and public/private employers or stakeholders addressing research challenges and employer needs associated with an ageing workforce, within a workplace or policy setting.”
Extending Working Lives: Interdisciplinary Research Consortia
This calls for proposals which “bring together existing UK academic expertise to understand the determinants of working later in life and the relationship between work, health and wellbeing of older workers.”
The deadline for both calls is 4pm on Tuesday 4th December 2012. These are both outline stage proposals, and successful applicants will be invited to develop full stage proposals in early 2013. In addition, for the MRC call an initial “partnership building workshop” will take place from 8th – 10th October. To attend this you need to fill out a short Expression of Interest form by 4pm, 5th September 2012.
Like Design for Wellbeing, these calls are part of the cross-Council Lifelong Health and Wellbeing theme. The two calls come in the context of unprecedented demographic change (i.e. an ageing population), the recent abolition of the default retirement age, and the linking of state pension age to rising life expectancy. But what does a growing proportion of older workers mean for government policy makers, employers and employees themselves?
Both calls seek research addressing one of the following two challenge areas:
Determinants of working in later life:
- What is the relative importance of, and interaction between, individual and external determinants affecting workforce participation in later life including an individual’s decision to stop paid employment or transition to a different type of job or role?
- How might these factors change over time, and how might they interact with each other?
- Which determinants are modifiable and how?
- What models can be built to predict outcomes from these variables?
- What factors, including retraining and skills development, impact on engagement of older employees and can this knowledge be used more effectively in the workplace?
Work, health and wellbeing:
- What are the relationships between work, physical and mental health and wellbeing? How does retirement or leaving the workplace in later life affect health and wellbeing?
- How does design of the workplace or workplace interventions including training impact on productivity of the older worker and how can these be modified to everyone’s benefit?
- How is older workers’ health and wellbeing affected by actual and potential work related policies?
- What are the perceptions and expectations of health in old age and how do these affect work participation?
- Can different outcome measures used by different disciplines be effectively combined, compared or standardised to assess common issues in the field?
Partnerships and Consortia
The MRC Research Partnerships call is focused on building up partnerships and networks between academia and and public/private employers or key stakeholders who would “not normally interact”. To this end they have arranged a Partnership Building Workshop over three days in early October (8th – 10th). You need to complete an Expression of Interest by 5th September to attend this event, and participants are expected to develop applications to the outline call for proposals.
It is never explicitly stated that attendance at the workshop is compulsory, but given the emphasis the MRC place on it and access to potential stakeholders it is likely that participants will stand a better chance of developing successful outline applications in the research partnerships call.
Note that applicants to the MRC call can be from across population science, health, economic and social sciences.
The ESRC Research Consortia call seeks to join up existing disparate and complementary research groups to address the research challenges outlined above. The research may include:
- secondary data analysis and linkage of existing data, surveys and labour force data; augmentation of existing surveys and cohort data collection eg qualitative questions to add value to quantitative data
- some primary research
- theoretical work
International collaboration will be encouraged for this call. Applications should be up to three years in length for a total value of £1.5M (at 80% FEC).
Given the interdisciplinary and strategic nature of both calls, prospective applicants are encouraged to contact RBS to discuss applications at the earliest opportunity.